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In push to vaccinate workers, Sonoma County restaurateur offers $21,000 in prizes

Neon signs say "cocktails" and "Stark's."
Stark’s Steak and Seafood restaurant, in Santa Ana, is one of seven restaurants owned by Stark Reality Restaurants that will be offering $1,000 prepaid gift cards to vaccinated employees.
(Terri Stark / Stark Reality Restaurants)

A Sonoma County restaurant owner is offering a lucrative incentive for her employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Terri Stark, who co-owns Stark Reality Restaurants with her husband, Mark, is hosting a contest that will give away up to $21,000 in gift cards to workers who get vaccinated. The goal is to encourage all of the couple’s 486 employees to get inoculated.

A total of 21 gift cards — each worth $1,000 — will be split evenly among the seven Bay Area restaurants the Starks own. Vaccinated employees will be entered into a lottery, and winners will be announced in a Sept. 1 drawing.

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About 85% of the staff across the seven restaurants are fully vaccinated, Stark said, but since she and her husband launched the contest on July 23, more than a dozen others have received their shots.

The Stark Reality Restaurants company is one of the largest employers in the Sonoma County community, the restaurateur said, and encouraging 100% vaccination among her employees is a matter of protecting public health.

“With the amount of employees that we have in this community, we feel like this is one way we could make a difference,” she said.

Today’s newsletter looks at the some of the new ways restaurants and bars are trying to cope with the resurgence of COVID-19.

Bay Area health officials are asking private employers to take a larger role in countering the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus by recommending that they begin requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Health officials in Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties last month implored workplaces to get more involved.

Other establishments in the Bay Area are aiming to protect their employees and staff by requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination upon entry, and to wear masks inside, regardless of vaccination status.

Stark says that, although she supports proof of vaccination for inside dining, her restaurants will not be mandating vaccinations until a requirement comes from the local or state level.


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