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Alameda restaurant vows commitment to employees despite pandemic struggles

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ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Due to the pandemic, sales have dropped about 85% for a nearly century-old business in Alameda.

But the owners of Ole’s waffle shop are committed to keeping the doors open.​

So much so, they’ve poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money to keep their staff employed.

The passion behind the product and the people serving the meals, providing the inspiration for the Monize’s to keep the lights on, the griddle’s hot and the staff at Ole’s waffle shop in Alameda employed.​

“I can’t ask them to leave and sit here and say we’re going to save our money and take care of ourselves because we didn’t build this business on our own,” Co-owner Ken Monize said.

Ken and Vickie Monize have owned Ole’s on Park Street since 1972 — a business founded in the 1920s.​

They also run Wine and Waffles next door.

And between the two shops, they employ more than 40 people.​

“We’re surviving. That’s about all I can say. We’re surviving,” Ken Monize said. “It’s a difficult time.”​

Both businesses have been allowed to remain open during the pandemic — offering take-out orders.​

It wasn’t until recently that they could serve customers outdoors.​

The couple had plans to semi-retire next year — and live in the dream home they wanted to build on land they purchased in Santa Rosa.​

But instead of splitting for the North Bay, the Monize’s sold their property — to keep paying their staff — because emergency federal loans are not enough.​

“We have put out just about $400,000 and we will continue to do what we need to do to keep this going,” Ken Monize said.

Ken says the payroll here is about $121,000 a month and that it’s going to remain that high because his employees are worth it.​

“That’s what gets us motivated everyday, is by providing the services for the customers and the people that work for us,” Vickie Monize said.

Employees who have worked at the restaurants over the years are honored with portraits on the walls — a reminder of the collective effort it takes to run a family business.​

“You can’t just say goodbye and good luck to somebody that has worked very hard everyday to help you build a business. You just can’t say goodbye to that. You just can’t stay good luck. I hope you do well,” Ken Monize said. “It’s not in our vocabulary — we won’t do it.”​

And they’re committed to keeping the doors open until their down to their last penny.​

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