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May 2020

What's Cooking? Pinehurst Does Its Best For Laid Off Service Staff

By Steve Eubanks

Like most Americans, the service staff at the Pinehurst Resort was caught completely off guard by the near total shutdown of the U.S.. economy to stem the tide of the coronavirus. The resort was having one of its best seasons in the last 20 years with the reopening of Pinehurst #4, bookings that exceeded expectations, and food-and-beverage numbers that were very promising, all of which came crashing down in the middle of March. 

By April 1, all food service outlets were closed. Everything was take-out as residents were warned to stay in their homes. Layoffs ensued, and with them, lost tips and fractured relationships.

But in the spirit of doing what’s right, Pinehurst did something extraordinary for the service staff. It offered up fantasy Pinehurst Experiences, including golf and lodging at some future dates, that were auctioned off to help raise money for the newly furloughed workers.

“The idea came to us effortlessly,” said Tom Pashley, president of Pinehurst Resort and Country Club. “Over the past weeks, we’ve made significant reductions to our workforce. That made this crisis very personal. We quickly needed to find ways to help as many employees as possible. Lots of great people offered to help. Our challenge was taking the time, amid the tears and chaos, to organize our efforts. After several early ideas, we began to write down a list of ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Pinehurst experiences. We knew we finally had an idea that just might work.”

The auctions raised significant funds for the service staff. It wasn’t the same as keeping your job. But the kindness of others raised the spirits of everyone in an otherwise bleak time.

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