Hamilton’s Mr Chicken will open from 11am to 8pm Monday to Thursday and stay open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Hamilton’s Mr Chicken will open from 11am to 8pm Monday to Thursday and stay open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, OCT. 12: A city fast food restaurant has changed its hours in a bid to avoid massive cuts in hours for staff or closure.

David and Beryl Furbert, who own Hamilton’s Mr Chicken, said a combination of recession and the high cost of doing business in the city forced a change.

Now the restaurant will only open from 11am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, instead of throwing open its doors for breakfast at 7am.

But the fried chicken outlet will now stay open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, starting from tonight.

Mr Furbert said: “It’s a combination of the recession and operating and maintenance costs, which have not gone down, they have gone up, which has created a lot of pressure on the business.”

Ms Furbert added: “The sales were even as of last year, but the City of Hamilton is really expensive for a fast food restaurant to operate.”

Mr Furbert said: “The economy is putting a squeeze on everyone — we had a meeting between ourselves and we had concluded that, to keep everyone employed, we needed to cut back on hours.

“In the final analysis we came up with a possible solution which we hope will work.”

Staff were told of the changed opening hours at a meeting yesterday — and some suggested later hours at the weekend to capture the late-night reveller market.

Mr Furbert added: “What we are thinking of doing is looking for another location.

“We own the building we are in, so if this new procedure doesn’t pan out, we look for another location outside the city and rent the space to a tenant for a bar or a higher-end restaurant.”

The move means the Queen Street restaurant’s 12 full and part-time staff’s hours and jobs are safe.

The jobs of the 10 full-time and part-time staff at the original Southampton Mr Chicken are unaffected.

Mr Furbert added: “We have looked at everything before we looked at the big step of closing the restaurant altogether.”

Ms Furbert said that — because of the rising number of jobless Bermudians —the firm, which also operates at Heron Bay in Southampton, had let go seven expatriate workers at the end of their contracts, while the last of the four remaining work permit holders would not be renewed.

Mr Furbert said: “We said we couldn’t see our way to renewing their permits because so many Bermudians are out of work.

“We went from getting maybe 10 applications a month to 10 a day sometimes.

“We can’t, in conscience, have somebody brought in here when there are so many Bermudians looking for a job.”

Mr Furbert said Mr Chicken has been open on Queen Street for six years, while the original Mr Chicken in Heron Bay had been in operation for more than a quarter of a century and continued to outperform its Hamilton stablemate.

He added: “This is definitely the worst economic climate I have seen in that time.

“But the changes only affect the Hamilton store, the Southampton one is holding its own.”

The restaurant’s formerly opened between 7am and 10pm, seven days a week.

The restaurant will continue to open for breakfast on Fridays and Saturday, operating between 7am and 4am. On Sunday, the new hours will be 8am to 8pm.