CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A popular Charlotte-area pizza chain is staying closed every Monday thanks to changing customer behavior and a desire to give employees a chance to rest and reset.
Hawthorne’s NY Pizza & Bar locations across the Charlotte area, eight in total, will remain closed on Mondays for the foreseeable future, according to current staff and an announcement on social media.
The decision, announced earlier this fall, made business and personal sense for Hawthorne’s, according to one general manager.
What You Need To Know
All eight Hawthorne's NY Pizza & Bar locations closing every Monday
The decision, implemented this fall, is due to the pandemic's impact on business
Customers and management at one Charlotte location say it was a great move
Christopher Mullis, general manager of Hawthorne’s 7th Street location in Charlotte, has spent nearly 18 years with the company.
He said the decision was made for a few reasons.
“Right after we were allowed to reopen, we discovered that lunches really weren’t where they had been,” Mullis said. “It’s hard for us to staff the restaurant, and we’ve got people that are already working a lot of hours and to ask them to come back into lunch and not have a day off, it’s too much to ask of anyone.”
Mullis said at first, staff were anxious about the announcement.
“'Oh no, I’m going to miss some hours,’ But they’re really not. We’ve taken care of that and reassured them. So, they’re very happy about that and incredibly glad to have the day off,” Mullis said.
The decision impacts all eight locations, which are now open various hours Tuesday through Sunday each week.
Mullis said even as a general manager with the company, he is enjoying the time off as well.
“I’ve gotten in a long run, I’ve had dinner with my wife a couple more times, and I’d really like to start taking up classes at Charlotte fencing,” Mullis added with a smile.
Besides staffing challenges, Mullis said recent changes in customer behavior also influenced the decision. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mullis said nearly 70% of his business at the 7th Street location has become takeout, a major shift compared to the years before COVID-19.
“It’s been about a month now that we’ve been closed on Mondays, and quite honestly I’m really enjoying it,” added Mullis with another smile.
He’s not the only one. Other employees at his 7th Street location, like Nathaniel Lancaster, are also enjoying the extra time off.
“It’s been really good for a lot of people. It did give me another day free, I did work usually Mondays. But, I do think it’s been really beneficial for our kitchen staff,” Lancaster said in-between waiting tables on a busy lunch rush.
“They’re working a lot of hours, more than full time. So, giving them an extra day off to spend with their families or just to pursue any interest they’re wanting to do, I think has really helped them a lot,” Lancaster added.
Lancaster has worked at Hawthorne’s off and on for nearly 14 years. Originally starting in 2007, Lancaster left in 2017 to pursue other opportunities, but came back in 2020 right before the pandemic hit.
Lancaster, who is also a professional painter, said once the pandemic began his commissions and other hired art projects dried up, so he started working full-time schedules instead of just a night or two a week.
“The first one that I did for the year, I actually installed it on March 16,  which is the day (Gov.) Roy Cooper did the shutdown order,” Lancaster said.
Now, thanks to the Mondays off and his Friday, Saturday, Sunday schedule, Lancaster is able to devote more time to painting.
“Well for one, there’s not a lot of things I do well, and this happens to be one of them,” Lancaster laughed while referencing his paint studio.
Lancaster has been painting for 27 years, since he picked up a brush as a high school senior, “I liked the ability to kind of ... create a world that is whatever I’ve decided it to be.”
Now, when he is not working at Hawthorne’s, he spends a majority of his days at Goodyear Arts, filling his studio with the sights, smells and sounds of different paint and canvas.
“You have to be happy with what you’re making as an artist, but I think most artists also want other people to enjoy the end result,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said the decision to close Mondays was just the latest thing Hawthorne’s had done to show its employees it was listening to their concerns and cares about them, which is why he said he came back last year.