RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A downtown Raleigh restaurant owner is promoting that most of his employees have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re trying to do two things: let our guests know we’re vaccinated and we’re taking care of each other,” said Greg Hatem, owner of the Raleigh Times, which is part of his restaurant group Empire Eats. “And the second thing is to get the word out that our whole staff is being vaccinated and it’s the way to the future. It’s the way out of this mess.”

Hatem said 91 percent of employees at the Raleigh Times are vaccinated. To spread the word, “Vaccine = Victory” posters went up outside the restaurant on Thursday.

“Will it bring in more people? I think so,” Hatem said. “More importantly, they’ll be more comfortable coming here. Because you’re most vulnerable, right? You’re sitting at a table. You’re not wearing a mask. While our staff will continue to wear masks, there will be the comfortability that they’ve been vaccinated.”

Bartenders, servers, cooks, and hosts will also wear matching shirts to show customers they’ve received the vaccine.

“I noticed the shirts immediately,” said Megan Reese, a loyal customer who was dining outside. “I thought that was really cool.”

When employees had a difficult time booking vaccine appointments, Hatem partnered with a pharmacy in Benson to bring the vaccine to them.

“When we found out we could do a mass clinic, we offered it to everybody,” Hatem said.



Hatem said some employees were hesitant to get the vaccine, but overall, the turnout was great.

Brad Froeschle has been a bartender at the Raleigh Times for eight years. He told CBS 17 he jumped at the opportunity to get the shot.

“It’s kind of like it’s a breath of fresh air,” Froeschle said of being fully vaccinated. “I feel really good. Being stressed out before coming to work, to now, like I feel we can all start taking a step toward the right direction.”