Competitors want to help displaced workers

Local restaurants offer jobs to many Marie Callender's employees
Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery on Biddle Road burned to the ground early Saturday morning.Julia Moore

Local dining establishments quickly responded with offers of jobs for employees of Marie Callender's restaurant, which was destroyed in a fire early Saturday morning.

Restaurant spokesperson Marie Cole said at least seven restaurants and cafes have offered employment to some of the 30 people whose jobs vanished in the blaze.

"The Medford community has reached out to us," said Cole, an area director for franchisee J & A Food Service in Redding, who oversees 11 Applebee's and four Marie Callender's in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Cole said there is no timeline for reopening the Medford Marie Callender's, but added she expects that will happen.

"Right now, it's in the hands of the insurance company and fire department," Cole said. "The investigation hasn't really even started. We know it will be six months to a year before we'll be going again. Everyone understands where we are right now. We plan on a new building, but that's obviously a ways away."

Workers at the restaurant who aren't able to find jobs quickly should file for unemployment benefits immediately, said Employment Department spokesman Tom Fuller. They can apply online at workinginoregon.org/ocs. It typically takes a little more than a week for the payments to begin.

"The first week is a waiting week and it gives us an opportunity to look at a claim and make a decision," Fuller said. "This is a high workload time for the agency, but we work them as fast as we can, because our goal is to get the money to those folks as soon as we possibly can."

Fuller said the local Employment Division manager can speed up the process in some circumstances.

"It's really up to the local manager to discuss whether a rapid-response type of team might be put together," Fuller said. "We don't do those officially unless there is a mass layoff with some forewarning."

While employees are scrambling to find new employment, the fire may leave some customers scrambling to find the restaurant's pies. But there's hope: The company is planning a three-day sale, Dec. 22-24, in the Applebee's parking lot, 1388 Biddle Road.

"We're offering all of our cream and double-crust pies," Cole said. "We're having refrigeration trucks brought in and we're bringing tins from our sister restaurant in Redding."

Some specialty pies, such as sour cream raisin, chocolate meringue and Boston cream pie, won't be available. The company won't be able to take in tins during the event.

"We'll have four managers at the location to help out," she said.

Anyone who has ordered pies or meals should call 541-772-5200.

J & A Food Service operates more than 40 restaurants, including Burger King, Marie Callender's, Applebee's, Logan's Roadhouse, Spoon Me, View 202, Premiere Catering and Cicada Cantina in an area from Central Oregon to Redding.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.



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