Owner of Wareham's Gateway Tavern uses tax break to reward employees

Feb 28, 2018

A tax-cut windfall for businesses has resulted in big tips for Gateway Tavern restaurant employees.

Changes in the nation’s tax code, which were enacted this December, made it possible for restaurant owner Joe Sauro to award one-time cash bonuses of $500 for full-time employees and $200 for part-time employees.

“We value our employees so much and we want to make sure they’re happy,” said Sauro.

Sauro is part of a group of owners that operates three businesses on the South Coast. In addition to the Gateway Tavern, the group includes The Stowaway bar in Mattapoisett and the Sail Loft restaurant in Dartmouth.

At the Gateway Tavern, 34 employees received bonuses. All together, restaurant owners handed out more than $30,000 to 93 employees. Sauro credited President Donald Trump for ushering in the change to the tax laws that made the bonuses possible.

He said President Trump wanted to see the nation's business owners reinvest the funds, either through expansion, renovations or employee bonuses.

“We had no plans this year to renovate or expand, so instead of keeping the money for ourselves, we distributed it,” said Sauro.

He added that he believed handing out the bonus checks will also benefit the community through employees spending more, boosting the local economy.

Judy Debonise, who with 18 years of experience is the Gateway Tavern’s longest serving employee, said the bonuses came as an “absolute surprise” for wait and kitchen staff.

She noted Sauro is a dedicated owner who gives back to his staff and the community frequently. Debonise said Sauro has helped raise funds for Wareham High School's media center, Toys for Tots and the Evergreen House, a home for those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.

“He’s amazing. I could go on forever, but he’s always been extremely generous with staff,” she said.