Single mom, restaurant server shares gratitude over boss’ kind gesture


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Similar to many families across Kern County, local server for Yard House, Kia Spurney said the sudden economic hit of COVID-19 has been difficult. 

As a single mother and the sole provider for her family, Spurney began to worry about how she would be able to provide for her son without a source of income.

“I have a son,” Spurney said. “He’s a year and a half old, so it makes it a lot harder when you have a family to support.”

That’s why Spurney was moved when she found out the CEO for the restaurant chain, under the ownership of Darden, announced he would give up his salary until employees got back on their feet.

“I’ve been a waitress for five years,” Spurney said. “I’ve worked at a lot of different companies, and it’s times like these when it really shows if they [value you as an employee] or not.” 

In a statement, Gene Lee, Chief Executive Officer for Darden said: 

“While we have identified opportunities to preserve cash across every brand and department, we need the help and support of each and every member of the Darden family. “As a start, I am forgoing my salary until we are through this situation.” 

“I already had a lot of love and respect for Darden,” Spurney said. “That’s going to be endless now. I was always a happy, spunky person when I went to work, but I think I’ll be that 10X now.”

Lee also launched an Emergency Pay Program for employees, designed to aid hourly paid employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

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