Watch CBS News

Sandwich Shop Fires Its Employees -- By Email -- Right Before Christmas

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Employees of a River North sandwich shop received the ultimate lump of coal right before Christmas: They were all fired.

The news came impersonally, via email on Sunday, with a notice that the nearly 20 workers at Snarf's sub shop, 600 W. Chicago Ave., would be terminated, effective Monday Dec. 23. The company's CEO later apologized for the manner in which employees were notified.

Kevin Brown worked there for almost three years. Just like that, his 30-hour-a-week, $10-an-hour job was gone.

"Two days before Christmas -- it's absolutely ridiculous," he tells CBS 2's Dana Kozlov.

Seventeen other Snarf's employees also got the electronic boot. A company spokesperson confirms that.

Many of those terminated took part in the one-day restaurant strike earlier this month demanding higher wages.

But a company spokesperson says there is no connection. The representative blames the closing on declining business and says there are plans to renovate the restaurant.

She said the former employees can seek state unemployment benefits and are welcome to reapply for their jobs when the business reopens next year. Brown, the fired worker, is skeptical he or his peers will be hired back.

The Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago is looking into the matter, to see if there is anything illegal about the sudden terminations and no future job guarantees.

Snarf's owner and CEO Jim Seidel apologized about the way the layoffs were handled. In a written statement released Wednesday, he said the company would offer the former workers a week's wages as severance.

Here is Seidel's full, unedited statement:

"I am very remorseful for the way we handled our recent restaurant closure at 600 West in Chicago. It was insensitive and poorly planned.  By explanation, rather than excuse, business was suffering and we felt the need to act quickly to begin efforts to re-concept the store.  We recognize now we acted rashly.  For this, we apologize to our employees and to our loyal customers who we know we've disappointed.  This was not handled in a way that met our own standards for quality and kindness.  We've learned from this mistake and will not be so insensitive again.  For now, as a token of our apology and in the holiday spirit, we will be providing impacted employees an additional week of wages. Again, we are deeply sorry."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.