TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s the end of an era for one Tucson restaurant.
Earlier this week, Club 21 Mexican Restaurant announced this week it was closing its doors with a post on Facebook.
It’s sad for customers who’ve been going there for decades. It’s even tougher for the employees who said they were caught off guard.
“There was a lady in the parking lot and she handed you your paycheck out her car window and said ‘I’m here to inform you you no longer have a job,’” said one former employee.
Three women who identified themselves as former employees spoke with KOLD News 13 and said they were given no notice about the closing.
Skip Jacob, one of the owners, told KOLD they made the announcement on Tuesday, July 30. That is right before the restaurant’s annual two-week closure for vacation.
The women who made up half the staff told KOLD there were only six employees and they share decades of employment.
"What am I going to do? How are bills going to get paid,” one former employee said.
“We live paycheck to paycheck and I’m a single mother and this is going to be hard,” another said. “We hope that we find jobs before we run out of the little bit of money we have to pay for our bills.”
KOLD spoke over the phone with Jacob, who said he had to close it down suddenly due to medical problems.
He expressed that several employees in the past had to take off work for medical issues and that their jobs were reserved for them. Now he wants to know why that isn’t being expressed in return.
Jacob also said that technically the two-week vacation acted as their two-week notice.
“They were paid, they were told they have two weeks to do something," he said. “They can contact you [KOLD reporter] or they can look for another job. That choice is theirs. But they have two weeks and they have the full pay they would have made in that two-week period.”
Despite that statement, the former employees said the vacation time they would be using to relax will now be spent searching for work.
"In the meantime, we just got to keep our heads up and start looking for somewhere else,” said a former employee.
Each woman said past customers have been amazing. Some even suggested places for them to work or offered them money.
The Club 21 owner told KOLD this was a tough time for all, and that they are sad to see it close.
“This was not a pleasant situation, this was not a happy situation," he said. "Our posting [Facebook post] explained that. And the fact that someone is not happy -- I’m not happy. If they were a long-term employee -- more than a year -- they received two weeks of paid vacation.”
“We have not fired someone and threw them out into the street. I consider the fact that they were told and they have two weeks worth of pay and two weeks from the time they were told. I don’t know of any business that gives more notice than that.”
Jacob said many have expressed how sad they are that the business is closing. But he said his health comes first.
“None of these are easy things to do. But sometimes life deals you bad cards. Medical things happen, health issues happen that you have no control over.”