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Some businesses choose to incentivize vaccinations for employees, customers

Vaccinated employees of Brianno's Deli-Italia in Eagan received $100 in cash.

EAGAN, Minn. — At a market like Brianno's Deli Italia in Eagan, it's all about finding a deal.

"We've been here since '93," owner George Maverick said. 

Along with a deli and a full menu of to-go house-made items, the deli has a selection of grocery items like pasta and olive oil on its shelves. Maverick said he's glad to be back in business, at least, sort of.

"The restaurant has done reasonably well because we're take out only," Maverick said. "So that hasn't been really affected, but the event business, we were under water for about half a million dollars just for last year. So it's been rough. The PPP helped a lot and kept us going so we're grateful for that."

In fact, Maverick's banquet hall and catering business, which saw about 50-60 events a year went to having almost none.

Even with this loss though, Maverick decided it was time to strike another deal - this time with his employees.

"We call it VIP - Vaccine Incentive Program," he said with a laugh. "So I told them they can be a VIP. I offered them a hundred dollars cash. Each one of them when they get their first shot. 5 of the 14 already have it, myself included. I'm the 15th, but I don't get the hundred bucks."

Maverick said the employees initially were a bit surprised.

"I hope they were pleasantly surprised. Some of them have taken it and received the money," he said. "Couple of them are on the no side. That's okay. Everybody has their own opinion. It's their own body. I just hope to nudge people who are on the fence."

Maverick said he knows as a business owner he can mandate the shots. However, he's wondering if a $100 carrot would work just as well. 

"I didn't ask, I didn't want them to feel like I'm pushing them," he said. "Obviously my employees like the rest of the country span the political spectrum. We know where we are...and we respect our opinions. I left it at that."

"We're such a small group. I think we can manage that and hopefully peer pressure will prevail," Maverick continued. "And I don't have to bring down the hammer."

Customers can be VIP's too. While they won't receive cash from Maverick, they will receive a 10% discount on their total bill.

"Basically they show us their vaccination card, we give them 10 percent off their purchase, and we tell them they're awesome," he said.

Maverick says the closures happened for a reason, and as more people are eligible to be vaccinated, he said he's glad to be sweetening the deal.

"I watched the news and I see there are so many people who are undecided or on the other side of the fence," he said. "We've had all these closures, to give science time to come up with an answer. They have an answer. Let's celebrate and get back to normal. I'm happy to take one for the team."

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