Philip Cambron usually spends Fridays working on multi-million dollar aircraft. This past Friday, he was working on a river roast sandwich with bacon at Our Town Café.
Cambron is a furloughed aircraft mechanic at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point, and the Havelock restaurant is offering discounts to workers on their furlough days.
"You can’t really do too much about it, so just make the best of what you can," Cambron said of the furloughs. "The way I look at it, I’ve got a family, so it’s an extra day that I get to spend with them."
With about 4,500 Cherry Point workers losing one day of pay a week through the end of September, Our Town Café on West Main Street and Crabby Patty’s on East Main Street are offering discounts on meals to furloughed workers.
At Our Town, the workers get 20 percent off their meal on their furlough day.
"We were brain-storming last week and my friend’s husband is furloughed on Fridays and we used to do Football Friday specials, and we decided to do Furlough Fridays. Friday is the big day that most of them are off," said Jennifer Rossi, owner of Our Town Café.
For those furloughed on Mondays, the same discount applies, Rossi said.
"What we’re here to do is provide them with a service at a lesser cost," she said.
Cambron, an aircraft mechanic, is one of about 3,300 Fleet Readiness Center East workers facing furlough days. Another 1,100 civilian workers at Cherry Point are also affected. The furloughs, in response to government sequestration, do not impact active-duty military.
Cambron was in Our Town Café for lunch Friday with his wife Lorale and their two daughters, Emmaleigh and Madi.
"I think it’s awesome that they’re giving back to us," he said. "They’re helping us out. The food is great. It’s just awesome coming in and having someone that can support us and everything."
Patty Aswad, owner of Crabby Patty’s in Havelock, also decided to institute a discount on Fridays with a $5.95 lunch special.
"We just figured that everybody could use help because they are being cut back like 20 percent on Fridays and not being able to work … ," she said.
Aswad said that she believed the furloughs and associated loss of income would impact Havelock.
"Havelock’s a slow town to start with, so it will hurt the town, especially the restaurants because that’s where they go when they come out of base at lunchtime, and if they’re not on base to have lunch then the restaurants out here will suffer a little bit," she said. "So will the gas stations and other places."
Ron Perez, a General Dynamics Information Technology logistics worker, understands the impact that furloughs will have on some of the base workers.
"It’s a tough time," said Perez, who was enjoying lunch Friday at Our Town. "I think a lot of us are trying to adjust to it, but it is part of the reality that we’re living in right now. It’s unfortunate, so we’ll just try to make the most of it.
"Our Town seems to be rallying around that fact and trying to do what they can to support those folks. We’re here to support Our Town because they are doing a great thing for the base and their furlough thing that they’ve got going on right now. It’s a great thing for the community."
Originally, the furloughs were to be for 22 weeks, but that was cut to 11 weeks. Still, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently said that furloughs could happen again in 2014.
Rossi said FRC East employees had always been regulars at her business.
"We have quite a few that come over on a regular basis, so it helped," she said. "We have a very tight community, so every little bit counts."