Biz Beat

Thanks for all the pie. Modesto restaurants reach out to ex-Marie Callender’s staff

So long, Marie Callender’s, and thanks for all the pie.

Modesto mourned the loss of Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery, which closed abruptly Monday morning after 36 years in business. Long a mainstay in northeast Modesto, it’s shutdown was met with sadness and shock. Sadness because all of the memories. One of our editors had his first date with his future wife there — a testament to how good the pies are. Kidding, he’s great, too.

But also shock for the employees who had suddenly lost their jobs and longtime patrons who no longer had a favorite place to brunch. The news follows recent store closures from other major retailers like Toys R Us, Sears, Orchard Supply Hardware and even Barneys New York.

Plus, um, have I mentioned how much everyone is gonna miss that pie?

The small silver lining is that the 40 to 60 employees now left in a lurch without jobs are already being reached out to by area restaurants. Representatives from the Modesto Texas Roadhouse and the franchise that owns some area Wendy’s and KFC locations have both invited laid-off Marie Callender’s workers to apply for jobs.

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Michelle Hill, marketing manager for the Texas Roadhouse on Sisk Road, said the restaurant’s managing partner Tom Chandley has invited all of the Marie Callender’s former staff — from cooks to dishwashers to servers and beyond — to apply for positions. She said those who apply will be given priority in the hiring process.

“Whenever places close, it’s just sad. People have families to support,” Hill said. “We need to get these people jobs. We are going to fill as many positions as we have.”

The steakhouse chain opened in Modesto, not far from the Vintage Faire Mall, in 2013 and currently has about 175 employees, Hill said. While they don’t have enough slots to employ all of the former staff, she said everyone is invited to apply online at All ex-Marie Callender’s employees should then follow up their online application with an in-restaurant visit or call to talk with the manager and indicate status as an ex-employee of the now closed chain.

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A sign on the front door of Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery is pictured Monday August 5, 2019 in Modesto, Calif. Employees were told of the restaurant’s closure this morning by receiving phone calls. Joan Barnett Lee

“We know they need jobs; we know (Marie Callender’s) has been in the community a long time and these are experienced workers,” Hill said of the former staff, some who had been at the restaurant for over 30 years. “These are trained people who know what they’re doing, and we want them employed.”

Also offering positions to now unemployed workers is regional Wendy’s and KFC franchise owner JEM Restaurant Management Corporation. The Fresno-based company’s Executive Vice President Kris Stuebner also invited the former Marie Callender’s staff to apply. The company has valley locations from Sacramento to Stockton, Visalia and Tulare and elsewhere.

Laid-off workers can visit or to apply online or fax a resume to 559-435-7914. People can also apply in-store at any of the locations. Stuebner said the chain has full and part-time positions available.

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Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery is pictured Monday August 5, 2019 in Modesto, Calif. Employees were told of the closure this morning by receiving phone calls. Joan Barnett Lee

For the rest of us, including the over 400 people who commented on Facebook, the pie will be what we miss the most. Sentiments like “Now where will I get my strawberry pie?” and “I will miss their pies and corn bread” were common.

But when one slice of pie ends, there’s almost always more somewhere. Might I suggest Bloomingcamp Ranch in Oakdale and Latif’s Restaurant in Turlock for wonderful, locally made pie. Now, who has a fork?

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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