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Local restaurants go extra mile for laid off Chesapeake employees

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OKLAHOMA CITY - After heading to work Tuesday, hundreds of Chesapeake employees learned they no longer had a job.

In fact, 640 workers at the Oklahoma City campus were laid off.

Instead of going home, some of those Chesapeake employees crowded local restaurants, including a coffee shop in Nichols Hills.

Many more headed to Republic Gastropub, which is normally a spot for drinks and food after work but became a morning meeting place for ousted employees.

Tim Fazio, event manager at Republic, said, "We specialize in American craft beer and American cuisine."

And on a day when American workers were laid off, many flocked to Republic.

Workers say they didn't use it as a watering hole to drown their sorrows but as hip place to find a bit of comfort.

"A lot of Chesapeake employees have come here for work functions and that's just what they are used to," said Fazio. "It was extremely surprising to get here at 10 a.m. and we don't open until 11 a.m. and the parking lot was almost half full with people."

As managers learned about the pink slips, they opened a little early to accommodate the former Chesapeake workers.

Fazio said, "We went ahead, trying to go that extra mile. And although we couldn't serve them food at the time, but went ahead and let them in, sit down and get comfortable. Surely they've already had a stressful day so we don't want to make it any worse on them."

John Carpenter, with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, says the unemployment rate is around 5.3 percent and the Chesapeake layoffs could affect that rate.

Carpenter said, "It will have an impact on the unemployment rate, just by adding a couple of thousand more job-seekers to that. But for right now, we're just not sure how that will look."

He said it all depends on the final numbers and how soon those workers are off the bench.

While this could be the last round of layoffs at Chesapeake, Fazio said if not, his staff will be there again with open booths.

He said, "We'd be more than happy to bring them in and serve some good food and kinda take a load off for a little while. If there's anything we can do to help, we'd be more than happy to."

In a letter to staff, CEO Doug Lawler said they offered eligible employees a severance package with three month's pay, acceleration of equity, a lump sum payment for COBRA insurance, as well as outplacement services.

When NewsChannel 4 spoke to labor officials, they told us the average Chesapeake worker has a very high chance of finding work with other local companies.