The food concession industry is among the businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many outlets closing down following quarantine protocols.

One of those struggling to keep his food outlets above water is actor-businessman Enchong Dee.

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But putting aside the thought of reduced earnings, continuing the livelihood of his staff is very much on his mind.

Enchong told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), "My reason is simple: jobs are essential in these uncertain times.

"I care for them not because they work for me, but because it is my mission as a businessman to provide opportunities for Filipinos.

"And that doesn't stop just because of a pandemic. They have families, they have needs, just like me."

Enchong co-owns branches of Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken at SM Megamall, U.P. Town Center, Market! Market!, and Marquee Mall.

The partners closed them all when Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine last March.

He said, "We stopped because our customers and our employees are our main concern. We followed the guidelines provided by our mall operators.

"Our sales took a plunge, but enough for us to survive."

Enchong also announced that their flame-grilled chicken and ribs, among many other flavorful dishes, are now available for delivery and takeouts.

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Employees over profits during the pandemic

As he told PEP.ph in this interview via Twitter Direct Message on July 15, 2020, Enchong and his partner have kept to their goal of not laying off "a single employee."

The actor related, "We followed the government guidelines regarding the benefits like advancing 13th month pay.

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"My business partner proposed that, as owners, we sacrifice our salary, which I happily agreed on."

To cut costs, Enchong said they have also organized a skeletal workforce with alternating shifts "every week or two."

What's important, he said, "Everyone will have a chance to go to work. 

"We are down to less than eight staff in every branch from the usual count, which is more or less 30." 

He quickly added, "Our staff and crew go through rapid testing as well..."

At the same time, their Peri-Peri outlets have been strictly following all safety and sanitation protocols. 

Enchong said, "Our food will always be our greatest advertisement so we make sure that it will be served as it should be.

"We value our customers... we will continue to serve them for as long as we can.

"And we hope that we can bounce back as soon as the pandemic is over."

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All these adjustments, according to Enchong, are nothing compared to the joy of helping his employees survive the pandemic.

"If your only goal of doing business is to earn money and get more money, you are bound to fail.

"I know how it feels like to be unemployed. Even if we are not earning, as long as we can secure their jobs, I'm happy."

Enchong thought of going into the franchise business to supplement his income as an actor.

He recalled, "I have always been on a lookout for new investment.

"When I started earning my own money, I would save it for 12 months and invest it.

"It was in October of 2015 when I opened my first branch which was Megamall, then U.P. Town a year after, and then Market! Market!."

The 31-year-old actor has proven to be a hands-on businessman as much as he is known for his dedication to his craft.

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He elaborated, "I was more on the marketing side of my branches.

"I would visit my branches every chance I get but because of my schedule, sometimes a week would pass without me seeing one branch.

"It's important for me to see and talk to my employees.

"I want them to feel that we are all in the same boat.  If they sink, I sink. If they thrive, we all thrive."

Enchong added, "That's my greatest achievement as an owner, to be able to take care of my employees in good and uncertain times."

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