Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County resident Steve Cochran has been in the restaurant business for a very long time. At one point, he and his business partner built and owned the Captain D’s on Columbia Avenue in Lexington. They also owned others in different locations. Even though the two businessmen eventually sold that restaurant to Captain D’s corporate, the pair still own and operate some Shoney’s restaurants at various locations.
When the partners were forced to close their Sumter Shoney's dining rooms to customers because of COVID-19, they had to layoff staff and make some big changes to their business model. Now, because of their actions to help the community and their employees who currently aren’t working, the two caught the eye of a newspaper in Sumter where their business is headquartered. The Sumter Item had a writer cover their charitable actions and what they are currently doing to help the community and those laid off employees. (See the full story in The Sumter Item here)
In that article, the writer explained what Steve and Greg are doing at the Sumter Shoney's, which has temporarily closed its doors to deep clean the restaurant in preparation for the day it can reopen.
The Sumter Item’s article, authored by Tim Leible, said that because the restaurant was closed, the owners and partners Glenn Woodrum and Steve Cochran were worried about the well-being of their employees who were laid off from Shoney's in Sumter. According to Steve who lives in Lexington County with his wife, they were able to use the SBA loan program, part of the federal economic relief package approved last week, to ensure their employees were paid for the next month. Still both Steve and Glenn wanted to do more. Seeing all the food in their freezers, the two put their heads together and devised a plan.
According to Leible’s article, Steve said "Our heart goes out to our hourly employees, not knowing how badly they struggle sometimes. We had food still in our freezer, and we felt like we could take the food that we had and put a meal program together."
Starting last Wednesday, employees were able to stop curbside and get a predetermined meal delivered to their car for free. Those meals are available at noon and the program will continue as long as supplies last. They are doing this Monday through Friday.
Leible’s article also said the restaurant works with First Presbyterian Church on a program they call Backpack Blessings. The Backpack Blessings help disadvantaged children have food over the weekend when they can’t eat at school. Steve and Greg also decided they’d make these meals available to the community for a voluntary donation of $5. Community members can stop by the restaurant and pick those up curbside too.
According to Leible’s article, Steve said, "We just felt like reaching out to our community and taking the benefits of whatever they donate and give it to Backpack Blessings so we can continue to feed these kids.” Greg was quoted as saying, "It's just something we can do during this period of time. We've got people that we're paying, and there's nothing for them to do, so we just felt like this was something we could do for people."
Even in the midst of a pandemic that has so many uncertainties associated with it, these two are not thinking of themselves, they are thinking about the well being of others. On Friday morning Steve told The Ledger, “I haven’t taken a day off in 3 weeks - been in Sumter every day.” This is just the kind of man that makes his business community and his home community, Lexington County, a better place to live.