Nova Scotia

Dartmouth East Side Mario's abrupt closure shocks staff

Employees at the East Side Mario's in Dartmouth's Mic Mac Mall say they were shocked to learn the Italian-style restaurant had closed and they had lost their jobs without official notice.

Workers say they found out on Facebook

The East Side Mario's at Dartmouth's Mic Mac Mall closed on New Year's Day. (CBC)

Employees at the East Side Mario's in Dartmouth's Mic Mac Mall say they were shocked to learn the Italian-style restaurant had closed and they had lost their jobs without official notice.

"I found out last night over Facebook," Brishen Hagan-Deschamp told CBC News on Wednesday.

"A bunch of statuses of co-workers saying, 'Worst day ever, out of the job, rest in peace East Side Mario's.'"

Hagan-Deschamp was one of six East Side Mario's workers who spent part of the day outside the locked doors of the restaurant, waiting in vain for the restaurant manager to show up.

The restaurant had abruptly closed its doors on New Year's Day, just hours after what the employees describe as a busy New Year's Eve.

The workers estimate as many as 45 people are now out of a job.

"We were busy, it doesn't make sense. It's not like we're empty in here every night," said William Griffin.

"It was Christmas time, we had lots of people coming in. New Year's Eve was our last day open and we were apparently really busy."

The workers gathered outside the restaurant Wednesday said they had not been personally contacted by management or the head office of East Side Mario's.

Later in the day, the locks on the doors were changed and a notice of abandonment was posted on the front door, indicating employees needed to surrender any keys they may have.

'We thank all our guests'

Several workers waited outside the East Side Mario's on Wednesday waiting for their restaurant manager, to no avail. (CBC)

"I don't know anything, they left us in the dark," said Mark Harnish.

"I've called the general manager several times and there's been no answer. I've texted him, there's still nothing. I have no idea what's going on."

Harnish said a few employees suspected something was out of place when their T4 slips were delivered two weeks ago, but no one imagined the restaurant would close.

"We put a lot of work and effort into this place. We have a lot of pride in the work we do, so it was hard on all of us," he said.

"Especially where we don't have a job this time of year, it's not exactly the easiest time to get back on your feet, you know what I mean? Not a good way to start the New Year."

East Side Mario’s parent company, Prime Restaurants, confirmed in an emailed statement to CBC News that a group of investors who purchased the franchise a year ago had permanently closed the Mic Mac Mall location.

"We thank all our guests for their loyalty and patronage," said the statement.

A spokesperson at Mic Mac Mall said mall management found out about the closure at about the same time as the workers.

Some of the former employees said they would apply for Employment Insurance while they search for new jobs.

"I got bills to pay, I got a roof to keep over my head," said Griffin.

"It sucks."

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