SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Hundreds of minimum-wage workers abruptly lost their jobs in the Sacramento area after the sudden closure of three Hometown Buffet restaurants.
Restaurants in Sacramento, Elk Grove, and Vacaville were permanently shut down on Thursday with no warning from parent company Ovation Brands. In a bitter irony, what once was Kids Night where families would gather for a discounted dinner, workers were instead left wondering how they would feed their own families.
Angelo Cooper cooked behind the buffet line for the last decade, but now he's left out front without a job and outraged.
"I have a son to take care of right here," he said. "Look at her—she has daughters to take care of. What do we do?"
Single mothers whose sole source of income was their job at Hometown Buffet are now left scrambling.
"I paid in advance for my daycare," said lineserver Angelina Minor. "My whole schedule a week prior, and now I'm out of money, that's a real hardship."
"They gave me eight hours of notice," said Cierra Cavasos. "Now I just don't have a job anymore.
Jermain Brutus says he was among the first hired when the South Sacramento Hometown Buffet opened in the 1990s. On Thursday, he was among the last to pick up his final paycheck and unemployment papers.
"I just want to say I'm surprised they came at us like this, no warning," he said.
Some cashiers arrived minutes too late and say they were told to come back later, but nobody was there to give them their final checks.
Ovation Brands announced it permanently closed 74 underperforming restaurants under its care on Thursday. Those include Hometown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, Fire Mountain, and Country Buffet.
This isn't the first time the chain has faced financial pressure. Its parent company, then known as Buffets, Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and 2012. The company rebranded in 2013 as Ovation Brands after emerging from the second bankruptcy in 2013.
Ovation Brands was sold to Food Management Partners in August.
The company said in a statement on Thursday night that workers will have the chance to apply for positions at operating stores. After the closures, that leaves one location in Citrus Heights and one in Yuba City.
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