PLYMOUTH - A summer job at an ice cream shop is as iconic in Massachusetts as the dessert itself. Only in Plymouth, the doors are closed at a Cold Stone Creamery.
The workers and the Health Department have shut it down. Customers showed up to find a note on the door saying the workers were tired of not being paid, and that the Health Department ordered them to close.
"I missed my paycheck for a couple of weeks and was given zero understanding," says Hunter Jafferian, an employee at the shop, "They would say we are having issues with your paycheck, and it will come tomorrow. Tomorrow would come, and we wouldn't get paid."
Jafferian is not alone. Numerous employees claim the franchise owners paid them late, or not at all. Others say they're checks were underpaid.
"They haven't been paid for five weeks. Today they got paid, and didn't get the correct amount at all." says Izabella Brewer talking about two of her fellow employees at the store.
"When I looked at one of my paychecks, I got $492. I divided that by how many hours I had, and that came to $9.20 an hour. That is way below minimum wage," tells Timothee Stewart, an Assistant Manager at the Cold Stone in Plymouth, "I reached out saying this isn't correct, only to hear nothing from my managers."
The group has taken their concerns to the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office (AG), which confirms they have three complaints against the franchise so far. The AG would not confirm or deny if they are currently investigating, but Brewer says she received a call from an investigator within the AG's office.
We reached out to Cold Stone corporate for comment. They responded on Tuesday:
"As with many Cold Stone Creamery locations, this is an independently-owned, franchised location. Cold Stone Creamery is committed to best-in-class operations, and the fair treatment of all Cold Stone Creamery employees. We are looking into the details surrounding this franchised location and claims about the restaurant owner's operations and will take corrective measures where necessary."
When we walked into the store to talk with the owners of the franchise, an employee told us they would be in the next day, but if we call, no one will answer because the phone is broken.
We continued to call and message the owners directly over the course of a week, but there has been no response. The Plymouth Health Department shut them down last week, and they can't get an answer either.
"I have left messages. I actually talked to one of the employees when I was there, and asked them to give them a call at that time, but they said they weren't allowed to call them," says Karen Keane, Director of the Plymouth Health Department.
The Health Department has been by the shop four times, and twice they have forced the workers to close the store.
The reason is because no one on staff was ServSafe certified. It's a certificate for passing a course that teaches basic safety protocols for operating a restaurant.
"She asked me for the licensing and the ServSafe certification tickets. I showed them all of those things. All were expired," claims Stewart.
"You have to get it renewed every few years just to make sure you know how to properly take care of your company, and that has not been done," adds Jafferian.
"They did [have employees who were ServSafe certified], but they are either gone, or the people who are there, have ServSafe Certification that is expired," explains Keane, "The one that I had looked at expired six months ago. When they couldn't produce any certification that is current, we had to close the store."
Keane stopped by the following week to see if the shop was still closed, but it was open again.
"I went in and I asked the two employees that were there if I could see their ServSafe certifications. They couldn't produce it," said Keane.
She closed the shop last Tuesday, and now won't let it re-open again without proper paper work. Even if it does, the employees we spoke with won't be showing up.
"I just want my money. I say this with glee, if they just give me my money, I will never speak to them again," smiles Stewart.
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