ASTORIA — Youngs Bay Restaurant closed Jan. 5 after opening in early November, leaving some former employees unhappy with the way final payroll was handled.
Nick Clark, who helped run the restaurant with owner Nicole Keller, said all employees have been paid.
“Everybody’s been paid,” he said. “Everybody’s been taken care of, and I’ve got documentation.”
Former manager Marie Bahr said her final paycheck bounced several times. She was unwilling to accept another check. Clark paid most of what she said she was owed in cash during the final week of January.
It’s not everything she said she’s due, and it doesn’t make up for the late fees and penalties she was charged because she was unable to make payments while she was trying to collect the money.
Bahr had filed a wage claim with the state earlier in January.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has three open wage claim investigations totaling $3,132.67 against the restaurant, said Charlie Burr, communications director.
Clark said on Feb. 2 that the business received letters dated Jan. 28 from BOLI. The wage claims would be disputed because all employees have been paid, he said.
Former cook Shawn Rethwill has not filed a wage claim, saying the amount he’s owed is small.
However, he’s unhappy about his experience at the restaurant.
“There wasn’t one paycheck from there that didn’t bounce or was on time,” Rethwill said.
He was fired on Jan. 1 and disputes the justification for his termination.
Clark denies the restaurant owes him money.
“Well, when you fire employees, they get upset, but everybody’s been paid,” he said.
Katelyn Holmes waited tables at the restaurant. She said several paychecks didn’t cash on time. She quit on Jan. 2, and her final check bounced twice.
She worked with Clark and eventually got all the money she was owed.
She’s not upset about the experience.
“I don’t think they had run a restaurant before,” she said. “I’m really not bitter. I was angry at the time, but I’m not bitter.”
Things worked out even better for former hostess Arianna Buckner.
“I always got paid on time,” she said. “My checks never bounced; I never had an issue with them.”
She worked at the restaurant for two months and was aware that other workers had difficulty cashing checks.
Clark said he and Keller closed the restaurant because of financing.
“We didn’t get the financing taken care of; we didn’t want to run a restaurant,” he said. “We were more into the property.”
He said they chose to open a restaurant because it was the first business they could get open to start generating revenue.
“We didn’t just want to get into the restaurant business,” he said. “That was the easiest thing to get open, to get people in.”
The plan was to buy the property and redevelop the docks and offer canoe rentals and other businesses on the site, he said.
He operates Nature’s Choice Alternative Medicine, a medical marijuana dispensary. He said they plan to focus more on that business.
Rethwill continues to look for work.
Bahr is recovering from surgery and trying to move on from the Youngs Bay experience. Throughout it all, she’s trying to stay civil.
“I don’t hate Nick and Nicole,” she said. “I just want them to know what they did was wrong.”