On Monday, Here to Serve Restaurants abruptly closed their doors – all of them. All Aja, Coast, Noche, Prime, Strip, Twist, and Goldfish restaurants ceased to exist, putting about 1,000 employees out of a job.
It was as shocking as it was disappointing, especially for me and my wife. We frequently visited Noche and we had plenty of good memories there.
Here’s why the franchise shut down so abruptly. According to WXIA-TV, Here to Serve was founded 21 years ago by retired chef Tom Catherall and his wife, Leigh. But the pair recently became divorced, and Leigh took over ownership of the restaurants.
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Since then, things have not gone as planned for Here to Serve.
“What I inherited was a very challenged business,” Leigh told WXIA-TV. “I don’t want to get into the details of that because it’s not appropriate, but the fact of the matter is it was a very challenged business. But I agreed to take it over because I believed in it.”
Making matters worse, when the restaurants shuttered Monday, employees complained that they hadn’t received their last paycheck, WSB Radio reported. Since then, a group of employees have filed a lawsuit, hoping to receive back pay for the missed paychecks, the Atlanta Business Chronicle said.
The dining community has rallied around the former Here to Serve employees, offering jobs to some and working to find employment for others. The Giving Kitchen, a group that raises money for restaurant workers, has set up a fund for those left jobless by the H2S collapse, Eater Atlanta reported. The hashtag #H2S2WORK was also started by local restaurant owners who have openings that could be filled by H2S employees.
As far as the diners are concerned, Catherall said there’s a chance a few of the restaurants could reopen if she can secure funding from private investors to get H2S back on its feet again.
“There are brands that investors are interested in and I think we have opportunities there,” she told WXIA-TV.
Image via Here to Serve website