Since its inception in July 2012, Wycombe Publick House has become something of a Cheers-esque destination for local diners. Customers often frequent the Mill Creek Road establishment two or three times a week, never getting enough of that quaint, small-town “everybody knows your name” environment.
For owner Fran McLaughlin, Publick House’s steady clientele is largely due to his staff.
“They create the atmosphere and the vibe that makes this place great,” he said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
In order to give back to his staff – especially after months of hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic – McLaughlin is hosting an Employee Fundraiser at Wycombe Publick House on Sunday, Oct. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
One-hundred percent of proceeds from sales as well as tickets for a slew of raffle baskets will be divided and donated to the staff.
“Right now, it’s not the best industry to be working in. Our sales are down probably 40 percent. We can’t make it at 25 percent, we can’t make it at 50 percent. So, I want to try to do what I can to help them out, maybe help someone pay rent or mortgage for a month,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t think it’s going to be earth-shattering or change their lives. But if people support the event, whether it’s just stopping in the restaurant buying chances or coming by and ordering takeout, every little bit will help.”
Raffle baskets, including one with over $500 in local restaurant gift cards, are currently on display at the restaurant. Chances can be purchased for $1 each; $10 for 15 tickets; and $20 for 30 tickets. The baskets can be viewed and tickets can be purchased until the drawing on the evening of Oct. 4.
In addition to prizes, the Employee Fundraiser will feature a cornhole tournament, with the chance to win Publick House gift cards and free appetizers, as well as a dunk tank, which McLaughlin anticipates to be a big hit.
“There’s probably some people over the years who would want to watch me get dunked a few times,” he said with a laugh.
While planning the Employee Fundraiser, McLaughlin was overwhelmed by the amount of support received by not just loyal customers, but fellow restaurant owners who are battling financial hardships themselves. When he gauged their interest on donating gift cards for the cause, they happily obliged.
“It’s not an easy business at the best of times. Talk about going from best to worst. In January and February, everybody was doing really well. The economy was great. All of a sudden, now everybody’s struggling. But it also says a lot of the people in this industry. Towns do not thrive when they have empty storefronts, so the more everybody can do to pitch in and help each other out, everybody working and navigating their way through, the better off we’re all going to be,” McLaughlin said.
Wycombe Publick House was closed for the first eight weeks of the pandemic, beginning March 15, and is currently offering outdoor seating, in addition to indoor at 25 percent capacity. McLaughlin plans to complete Gov. Tom Wolf’s self-certification process and expand to 50 percent occupancy soon.
As McLaughlin watches other restaurants permanently close their doors, he’s grateful to still be in business for everyone’s sake, especially his tight-knit, 20-person staff. More than 10 employees have worked at Publick House for five years, and several are approaching their three- and four-year marks.
“In an industry where you see a lot of turnover, we’ve had a lot of very hardworking, loyal people who have done a great job here,” McLaughlin said. “Places are closing down and hey, the jury’s still out on how this thing will go. But if we get to the other side, I want to make sure my staff is still intact and still in place. My staff have made this place what it is. It’s the essence I’ve always wanted. My employees created that and they deserve the credit for it. They work hard to do it. It’s the reason why I wanted to do something for them.”
Wycombe Publick House is located at 1073 Mill Creek Road, Newtown. Visit facebook.com/wycombepublickhouse for more information.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com