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Restaurant closes in downtown Tampa, moves employees to different location to work

Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 09, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Six months ago, Gregory Lockett didn’t know where his next meal was coming from.

“I really didn’t know what to do, I was kind of like, ‘I don’t know what to do,’’’ said Lockett.

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Now, the 61-year-old is surrounded by food every day, making lunches at Cooks on Gandy Blvd.

“Gregory, when he came to us he was in a van, literally, and he is now not and I’d like to think that we had something to do with that,” said Cooks owner James Nichols.

Nichols and his wife Sally gave Lockett an opportunity and he hasn’t looked back.

“They go out of their way to help their staff. Many times I’ll be in a situation where I didn’t know where to turn or where to go, I mention to Sally and Jimmy, ‘ok we’ll help you,’” said Lockett.

In the past month, Cooks found themselves making some tough decisions.

“Awake until 5 or 6 in the morning worrying, looking at the accounts,” said Nichols.

They decided to close their downtown location. So what would happen to those employees, people like Lockett?

“We’ve taken the staff from there and we are rotating them in to our Gandy Location,” said Nichols. “It means that people get less hours but none the less they are still working.”

Nichols said when your employer is down close to 50 percent in revenue, yet they still have the compassion to make sure individuals like himself are taken care of, it makes this much more than just a job.

“I work and serve from my heart, and the biggest thing there is is love, and they got that here, they got the love here,” said Lockett.

“If he lost his job here and it went the other way I’m sorry no that’s unacceptable to me,” said Nichols.

Nichols also said he feels for the bigger restaurant groups that had to layoff staff and hopes the people of Tampa keep them in their hearts.