The Serranos pray before their staff meeting Oct. 4 in their central office located in downtown Chandler. The family always puts family first, and that’s why they’ve decided to keep their restaurant closed on Sundays. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

For more than three decades, the Serrano family has operated its Mexican food restaurants in the East Valley. Now, after much prayer and discernment, they have decided to close on Sundays to honor the Sabbath.

With seven locations serving up Mexican fare and downtown Chandler’s Brunchies, the family of six siblings, headed by matriarch Eva Serrano, has felt the economic squeeze of the last several years.

Ric Serrano, president of Serrano’s, said the decision to close on Sundays was one that they began to think about even before their father died in 2009.

“It came up as to whether it was right for us to have a business open that day,” Ric said. He and his wife Davonna were co-chairs of the Charity and Development Appeal in 2009 and discussed the matter with Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

“When we talked to him a while back, it was about whether or not we were breaking the Fourth Commandment,” Davonna said. “He told us, ‘You’re providing a place for families to gather,’ but at the end of the answer, he encouraged us to continue to pray and discern about it.”

Theresa Serrano, executive vice president of Serrano’s, said that Sunday is the busiest day of all for Brunchies and that the other restaurants do brisk business that day as well. Nevertheless, the Serranos informed their managers last month that as of Oct. 1, Sunday would be a day of rest for all of them.

“When we announced it to the general managers, a lot of them just kind of looked at us,” Theresa said. “Their mouths dropped.”

And then they started talking. One of the managers came forward and said it had been 13 years since he had a Sunday free.  “And they have children,” Theresa said. “He mentioned to Ric that his wife is going to be very happy.”

As of Oct. 1, all Serrano’s employees have Sunday as their day off instead of rotating free days. The closures do not involve a pay cut.

“For several years our family has struggled with the decision to open on Sundays. After endless discussion and prayer, we think it’s time,” signs posted at the end of last month read. “As of Oct. 1, Serrano’s and Brunchies will be closed on Sundays to give our employees the opportunity to spend that day with their family, friends and to worship. We extend our deepest gratitude for your understanding and continued support.”

Comments began to roll in to the Serrano’s Facebook page. Most, but not all, were positive. A few customers said they would be eating at competitors’ businesses on Sundays.

“The reality of all this is — and we all know this as a family — that when we step forward and do things for our Lord, we realize that we are going to be under attack and not all things are going to be positive and work out smoothly,” Theresa said.

She recognizes that in giving up one of their restaurants’ busiest days, there could be struggles ahead. “Not every day is going to be easy,” Theresa said, “but we just have faith in God. This is a wonderful lesson for all of us to trust in Him and go ahead and place it at His feet.”

Bishop Olmsted wrote a series of articles for The Catholic Sun that dealt with the Ten Commandments in 2004. One of those articles, “What a Difference a Day Makes,” dealt with the Third Commandment and the importance of setting aside Sunday each week to pray, rest and spend time with family and friends.

“Those who make Sunday more important than the weekend stand apart from the rat race of modern society,” Bishop Olmsted wrote in one article, “not to condemn it but to remain faithful to Christ today and to offer society a freshness of vision built on the dynamic power of the Risen Christ.”