Miller's Seawall Grill continuing to pay staff for volunteerism after fire forced closure

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Galveston restaurant owner pays staff to volunteer

A fire at a Galveston restaurant on July 17 forced the owner to close its doors for several weeks, but instead of laying off his staff, he is choosing to pay them to do good.

"They were cooking bacon," said Sherry Smith, a manager at Miller's Seawall Grill. "Somebody came by with a pitcher of water and accidentally spilled it, they collided, and it hit all of the grease that was on the grill."

Smith said the staff moved quickly to put the fire out, but minutes later, were notified by a bystander that the attic was on fire. The kitchen sustained massive water damage and the food loss was estimated to be around $50,000.

Instead of laying off employees, Smith said owner Don Clark promised to still keep the paychecks coming in exchange for his staff to volunteer out in the community.

"We were all thrilled and excited about going out in our community and doing different things," said Jessica Massimilla, an employee at the restaurant.

Massimilla and coworker Amanda Manner are spending their free time volunteering at the Galveston Island Humane Society, one of several nonprofits the restaurant is working with.

"To have them volunteer at other facilities around the island, it not only gets them involved with the community, but it's a great help to animals here," said Danielle Nordstrom, the volunteer coordinator with the Humane Society.

Miller's Seawall Grill is closed while under construction, and the managers hope to be back in operation by September or October.

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