As the head of a company that owns and operates restaurants in four states, Allen Corey ’74, CEO and president of SquareOne Holdings, has been a picture of resilience throughout the global pandemic. Not only has he kept businesses open and added a new restaurant in Charlotte, he has created the non-profit SquareUp.
SquareOne owns and operates nearly a dozen restaurants in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, including two of Chattanooga’s most popular spots on the Southside, STIR and State of Confusion. The SquareUp Foundation pairs SquareOne restaurants with local charities and causes, donating percentages of sales in support. The foundation also manages the Hope Fund, a source of help for SquareOne employees during a tragedy or emergency. The fund is capitalized by those same employees, and Corey says that, from management to hourly staff, all his team members can, or do, give to the Hope Fund.
We’ve been working on outreach and community service for a long time; it’s always been part of our existence.
Corey is quick to point out that, while the foundation is new, the ethics of the initiative were in place before the pandemic. “This was not a reaction to COVID at all,” he says. “We’ve been working on outreach and community service for a long time; it’s always been part of our existence. We formalized the efforts with the creation of the SquareUp Foundation in June, and it just happened that it coincided with the pandemic.”
With the pandemic lingering, Corey knows that more is at stake than the future of his restaurants. “It’s the most difficult time I’ve ever seen,” says Corey, “and no one knows what the future holds. If we are forced to close our businesses again, the implications are extremely far-reaching. We want to keep helping others.”