At Brown Bag, our crew is our family. We work hard together through busy downtown lunch rushes, we dance together on the line, and we laugh together at silly fish puns on the daily specials board. When you walk into Brown Bag, we hope that you also feel that positive, joyful energy that our teams share and create. They truly love caring for our guests, and we simply could not ask for a better group of people than our 75+ crew members across Chicago.


That is why the last few days – and specifically the last 24 hours – have been particularly challenging to navigate. While we absolutely understand the statewide limitations placed on restaurants, this brings about immediate repercussions to our crew members. At Brown Bag (and at restaurants across the nation), our workers’ schedules are being temporarily reduced or eliminated. While much attention has been directed toward ensuring that sick employees have paid leave (as our crew members do), nothing has been done by the government for the large group of employees in this industry who are perfectly healthy and want to work, but simply don’t have a spot on the schedule anymore. This inaction has put our crew members (and thousands of others) in a scary situation, unsure whether they will even be getting their next paycheck.


So, we’re stepping up. We want to tell you, our guests, what we are doing for our teams, now – and, what you can do to help.


Here’s what we’re doing for our crew:


   * Paying Our Teams For Lost Hours – no matter the reason. Some of our crew members need to be home caring for family members or children home from school. Others simply may not feel comfortable coming to work in these circumstances. And, many will have their schedules cut back due to the required elimination of dine-in service. No matter the reason, we will continue to compensate our teams for 70% of the hours they would have typically worked at Brown Bag over the two-week shutdown. We were incredibly proud, as a small business, to be able to inform our teams of this plan earlier today. As a result, our crew members can all rest assured that they will receive a steady paycheck, even over this unusual period.


   * Protecting Our Teams’ Health & Safety – and going above and beyond to do so. We are requiring all staff to wear gloves upon entry of each restaurant, upping the frequency and thoroughness of our cleaning and sanitation protocols, increasing ventilation within our kitchens and ensuring that all orders are handed off to guests or delivery drivers outside of the premises and with gloved hands.


   * Investing In Our People, 360° – making lemonade with lemons. With the downtime our crew members will have over the coming weeks, we will be providing opportunities for advanced learning and skill-building. We’ll be hosting (virtual) workshops, focusing on cross-training and providing continued education opportunities for all crew.


Here’s how YOU can help:


   * Order On Our Website – or on your favorite delivery service! In an effort to retain as many hours as possible for our crews, we are keeping 5 of our 7 restaurants open, and we’ll be keeping our grills hot, cooking up fresh, sustainable seafood as always. We’re also offering free delivery on all online orders through the end of the month and a curbside pick-up option for online or call-in orders.


   * Receive A Care Package – and give one, too! As of tomorrow, we’re introducing the “Brown Bag Care Package,” a family-meal sized assortment of our crew favorites, available online. And it’s not called a “care package” for nothing: 100% of sales of this item over the next two weeks will be paid out in tips to our crew.


As always, we appreciate your support for our business and our people. We look forward to serving you via curbside pick-up and delivery over the next few weeks and back on our patios soon enough!


Thanks for being part of our Brown Bag family,


Donna Lee

Donna Lee, Founder & CEO