FORMER employees of a closed Tulsa restaurant want to be paid

Thursday, November 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Imagine working 80 hours and getting paid for it, only to have the check bounce. Several former employees of a local restaurant say that's what happened to them after the restaurant closed its doors. So they called Six in Your Corner reporter Diane White.

The parking lot is empty - Denny's Restaurant has closed. Two weeks ago nearly 20 people lost their jobs. Sally Harris, former Denny’s employee, “I couldn't believe it when Sally told me that day - I was in shock - I cried." Sally Harris and Betty Cooper both worked full time at Denny's Restaurant on North Garnett. Betty Cooper, Former Denny's Employee: "My husband had a heart attack three months ago and he worked for Denny's so I was the only source of income and now I'm unemployed - I'm drawing unemployment now - it's been rough - I have an eleven year old daughter."

And when they received their final paycheck from parent company Phoenix Restaurant Group- they bounced. Sally Harris, " I had checks I wrote out for bills I paid and they're coming back and I'm getting charged now for return checks and that's costing me money.” George Hryshchuk, Former Denny's Manager: " I had a real good crew that worked there - worked very hard for me and very hard for the corporation...I think for us spending all that time and hours that we put in at the company - they at least owe us that credit and give us our pay.”

The company says it can't pay - - orders of the US Bankruptcy Court. We traced the petition online. It began October 18th when creditors filed the original petition against Phoenix Restaurant Group. But the company says it didn't find out about it until the end of the month, after it shut down Denny's. Phoenix Restaurant Group says the bankruptcy court has frozen its assets and that's why checks bounced.

Chief Administrative Officer Barbara Marshall told us "The company is trying to do everything possible under context of the bankruptcy law to pay these employees." Hryshchuk, “What they said is they'll be sending us a claim check and we've just got to file like all the other vendors do through Bankruptcy Court. Why should we have to worry about something like that - work that's already been done before they closed." They also have to worry about finding another job.

Phoenix Restaurant Group says it received an emergency order from the Bankruptcy Court to pay the employees working at its other Denny's in Broken Arrow. The four Denny's Restaurants in Tulsa are owned by a different company - which is based in Norman.