Little Caesars

Paige Tyree

MOUNTAIN CITY — Many business owners readily admit this past year was the most difficult of their career. They had to endure sharp downturns in the number of customers and the number of job applicants and had much more stringent health guidelines to follow.

Little Caesar’s Pizza franchise owner Paige Tyree has faced these challenges. Her restaurants are in Mountain City and Boone and North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Despite the COVID-19-created challenges, Tyree said the pandemic “has made us better.” She and her staff have gained a lot of valuable knowledge and called it a great “learning opportunity,” and the businesses are better meeting those opportunities.

“We have learned a lot, we have learned more about keeping everything clean and sanitary and we have learned more about watching out for waste. It has led to more positive communication with our staff. We have also learned to appreciate our customers more,” Tryee said.

Her business was able to operate fairly normally throughout the pandemic, Tyree said.

Unlike a lot of restaurants, her Little Caesars franchises did not have dining rooms, so that challenge of maintaining social distancing and sanitizing individual tables did not apply to her business. She said her carryout business was also not affected by the pandemic.

Tyree said one of the biggest areas where operations had to change for her staff was the lobby operations, where customers walked in to place orders. There, the restaurants had to put the new sanitation guidelines in place and to enforce social distancing.

Tyree said her restaurants were so successful at meeting the pandemic challenges that the stores were not closed a single day because of COVID-19.

From the start, the stores followed guidelines from the Little Caesar’s corporation and from the local and regional health departments. She said her staff understood that not following these rules would have brought bad consequences. At the least, the business would have been shut down.

As the region seems to be getting back to normal, Tyree said she has not had a problem keeping her positions filled. Her managers have remained and she said many of the workers are high school age who are eager to work.

“It has definitely made us better,” Tyree said.

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John Thompson covers Carter and Johnson counties for the Johnson City Press since 1998. He grew up in Washington County and graduated from University High and East Tennessee State University

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