Faced with an uncertain timeline, the restaurant's 40 employees wondered how they'd manage. They didn't need to wonder long. General manager David Woodruff soon announced the owner's plan: employees would be paid during the reconstruction with the understanding that they'd return when the business reopened. Staff was encouraged to use their time to volunteer in the community. The Durango community had been supportive to El Moro during its 3-1/2 years in business, and owners saw this as an opportunity to give back.
Employees responded. Among the non-profits to benefit from the volunteer hours were the local Humane Society, a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, a social services thrift store, a Christmas tree sale to benefit environmental education, a wolf refuge, and sexual assault support services.
When the restaurant reopened a couple weeks ago, 36 of its employees returned to their jobs.