Mountain restaurant group to close on Election Day to help employees vote

The owners of three mountain restaurants are closing on Election Day to make sure all their employees have the opportunity to vote. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The owners of three mountain restaurants are closing on Election Day to make sure all their employees can vote.

"I grew up in a political family that was very political,” Jonathan Johnson, general manager of Carmel's Kitchen & Bar, said.

He had been in the restaurant business for decades.

"There are always these factors with the restaurant industry, the service industry in general, that you can't control, and I said, 'how do I make sure that we as an employer create paths to the polls, not roadblocks?'" Johnson said.

Johnson's idea was to close Carmel's and the owners' other two restaurants to help employees go vote.

"I'm personally going to provide transportation for any member of our staff, or all of the staffs actually," Johnson said.

He also provided information to staff members about the election.

"Sample ballots, registration guides, voter guides that talk about the amendments, talk about the candidates," Johnson said.

"I appreciate it. I think it's a super nice thing to do,” Jessica Trivett, an employee at Carmel's, said. "My fiancée and I are going to go together and vote, actually."

Neggy Fox, with Buncombe County Board of Elections, said she wanted to see more employers make voting accommodations for staff, as well.

But, even if you were not lucky enough to get Election Day off. There are other options.

"Early voting is still going on," Fox said. "Absentee by mail, that's an option."

Johnson said he wanted his employees to have every option on the table to vote — and never let work take any away from them.

"It's important to me, and I think it should be important to everyone, because it's one of the most powerful things you can do," Johnson said.

Early voting continued through Saturday Nov. 3, when polls then would open at 8 a.m. and close at 1 p.m.

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