ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) - Employees at several Max & Erma's in the Metro Detroit area said they were locked out of their job on Monday with no warning. They said they only knew they were unemployed when they showed up to a sign.
Matt Martin was at the restaurant Sunday night to close - it turned out, that was the last time it would close. When he came back for his morning shift, he found the surprising note that read "Sorry, we've closed. Max & Erma's thanks you for your patronage over the years".
"I literally closed the restaurant last night. I left here at 10:30 at night last night and woke up and the restaurant was closed," Martin said.
Locations across Metro Detroit, including Plymouth, Novi, Livonia, and Rochester Hills abruptly shut down Monday morning. Eric Upell, the now former employee, said employees and local management had no clue.
"They could've given somebody a little bit of notice. They just hired a bunch of people, right out of training, so obviously management was not aware," Upell said.
In Livonia, ironies of ironies were on full display: a 'now hiring' sign was still up next to the 'now closed' sign. Megan Haggerty said she talked to management on Sunday but was in for a shock on Monday after moving quickly to get to work on time.
"I just ran through the mall to get here by 11:45, and they're closed. So I gotta go look for a different job, I guess," Haggerty said.
James Blystone, spokesman for American Blue Ribbon Holdings, the company owns Max & Ermas, says 13 underperforming locations are now closed in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. He released a statement that reads:
"A member of our Sr. Leadership team was at each restaurant this morning to personally deliver this news and to provide each and every team member with a severance agreement."
Blystone adds that as locations close down, unopened food items will be donated to charity. Despite that, employees say they don't appreciate coming into work to see they didn't have a job.
"As far as corporate, it probably was a little shady. They probably knew they were closing down," Haggerty said.
With such short notice, Blystone says the company felt it was best to deliver the news in person with each employee receiving paperwork at a meeting Monday.
"They say we can relocate you to a different location or if we want to terminate our employment, they'll pay us a lump sum," Matt Martin said
Blystone also says the Max and Erma's brand is being revitalized and said an announcement is expected next week. Right now these employees are
"If you're hiring I am looking for a job," Haggerty said. But she adds one caveat: "If you're open!"