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'It sets them up for a future': Beau Jo's owner selling business to employees

As owner retires, business transitions to Employee Stock Ownership Plan
'It sets them up for a future': Beau Jo's owner selling business to employees
Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 27, 2023

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — Beau Jo's in Idaho Springs has become an iconic pit stop for people heading home from the mountains to grab one of their unique pizzas. The restaurant recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and as the owner plans to retire, he has decided to sell his company to the employees.

"We're known for that big mountain pie for a big appetite," said Codi Bair, who is owner Chip Bair's daughter. “He's going to be giving the employees ownership of the company.”

Bair also works as the director of marketing for Beau Jo's, which has a handful of locations throughout the Front Range. The Idaho Springs restaurant is the original location.

The Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) would apply to every Beau Jo's location, according to Bair, which impacts around 250 employees.

"They don't have to take money out of their paycheck to be part of the program," said Bair. “If they've been here for a certain amount of time, then they are already automatically part of that program.”

How long an employee will have to work with the company before gaining ownership status is still being decided, along with other details surrounding the plan.

“It's a big deal. We want to make sure we're doing our research and making the best decision for the employees in the business," said Bair. “The shares will be company-wide. It won't be divided up by location, because we do have employees that travel to different locations in different seasons... It'll be in their stock plan. So they'll get those stocks, and then when they choose to retire or leave the company, then they'll be able to cash out and get that money.”

'It sets them up for a future': Beau Jo's owner selling business to employees

Bair said Beau Jo's also has a 401(k) plan for their employees as well, so this is another way to set them up for a future after the restaurant industry.

“Create a culture for other people that they want to work with, and encouraging those types of people to come and work with them, instead of, you know, just hiring anybody that we can get," said Bair. “This actually is very uncommon in restaurants. There are a couple, we did some research talking to other companies that have gone to an ESOP, but there's not very many that are restaurants."

Bair said her father has been thinking about making this decision for a long time, and many of his employees are excited about the change.

“The first thing I did was call my wife and tell her about it, because I just thought, you know, that was about the nicest thing he could have done for us," said Cory Walcott, who has worked at the pizza spot for nearly three decades.

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