McKinney restaurant owner merges businesses to keep afloat, help former employees

Roberto Garcia, a nine-year sous chef at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick’s Chophouse, helps prepare meals. (Courtesy Rick Wells)
Roberto Garcia, a nine-year sous chef at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick’s Chophouse, helps prepare meals. (Courtesy Rick Wells)

Roberto Garcia, a nine-year sous chef at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick’s Chophouse, helps prepare meals. (Courtesy Rick Wells)

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Rick Wells owns Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick's Chophouse, which are both located in downtown McKinney. (courtesy Rick Wells)
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The restaurants provide 40-50 meals a day to former employees and their families. (courtesy Rick Wells.)
Rick Wells had to make one of the hardest decisions in his life, he said, when he laid off the majority of his employees at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick’s Chophouse in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Wells said it was the most brutal thing he has ever done. The base group of 150 employees was whittled down in March to about 25 people, he said.

“We felt like the best thing for us to do was to consolidate down into one team,” he said. “We have a COVID-19 team, and those are the only people that work at the restaurant.”

Despite the layoffs, Wells said the well-being of his employees, both current and former, is still his No. 1 priority.

The remaining team members have taken it upon themselves to minimize risk of exposure to the coronavirus by self-isolating from everyone but each other. Some are staying in hotels, away from their families. Others are living with each other temporarily to ensure they are not coming into contact with anyone else, he said.

In addition, Wells has temporarily merged the two restaurants into one, marrying their menus and offering the most popular items from both out of one location.

At Rick’s, the team cooks the food, prepares the orders and delivers them to customers curbside or at customers' homes.

Harvest, which has been closed to the public, now serves as ground zero for feeding many of the restaurants’ current and former employees for free, Wells said. At the Harvest location, the team cooks family meals, including dinner for the night and lunch for the next day.

“People pull up, we stay 6 feet away, we check on them, we check on their families, and we see if they need anything,” Wells said. “If they need something, they can pick it up the very next day from us. If they need toilet paper, [if] they need some money—whatever they need, they can sit in their car and say, ‘I need this,’ and we will do everything we possibly can to get it to them.”

Wells said this has already proven to be a huge asset to these families. He estimates his crew gives out 40-50 meals a day to former employees and their families.

“It was so uplifting to see our employees and know that we are there for them, that we are going to be there with them this entire time, no matter how long it takes us to get through this unbelievable war that we are in,” he said.
By Emily Davis
Emily graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in multi-platform journalism and a minor in criminal justice in Spring 2018. During her studies, Emily worked as an editor and reporter at The Houstonian, SHSU's local newspaper. Upon graduation, she began an editorial internship at Community Impact Newspaper in DFW, where she was then hired as Community Impact's first McKinney reporter in August 2018.


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