Christmas Day closure: Owners of Pocatello cafe apologize for not notifying employees

Notice posted on the door Christmas Day at Ruby Tuesday in Pocatello.
Notice posted on the door Christmas Day at Ruby Tuesday in Pocatello. Idaho State Journal

The owners of the now-shuttered Ruby Tuesday in Pocatello have apologized to the restaurant’s employees after failing to tell them that the eatery would close for good on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day, the owners placed a note on the restaurant’s front entrance that read, “Business Permanently Closed. Watch for New Restaurant Opening Soon. Thank you!”

Merry Christmas.

Ruby Tuesday employee who learned the restaurant closed on Christmas

Several employees told the Journal they found out that they were out of a job from the notice posted on the door, and that the sudden Christmas Day closure blindsided and infuriated them.

In a written statement issued Tuesday night, the franchise’s owners said they are actively trying to bring a new restaurant to Ruby Tuesday’s former location on Via Caporatti Drive.

We are sorry for the difficult position this has put our employees in, but we assure them they will all be paid on time.

Ruby Tuesdy owners’ statement

Once a new restaurant is in place, the owners said they will try to hire back those who worked for them at Ruby Tuesday.

“We are working diligently with some interested restaurants in hopes that they can take over the restaurant quickly and we will attempt to set up a custom interview process for our (former) employees in hopes that they can be re-employed by the new tenant,” the owners said in their statement.

The now-closed Ruby Tuesday location in Pocatello is owned by a small group of local investors. The Tuesday night statement did not include the investors’ names and did not specify what interested restaurants could be opened in Ruby Tuesday’s place.

The owners also said in the statement that they are working on a program to reimburse customers who still have a balance remaining on their Ruby Tuesday gift cards.

Besides failing to notify their employees of the restaurant’s Christmas Day closure, the owners also faced a backlash from the community for selling gift cards right up until the last day the restaurant was open for business, which was Dec. 23.

The restaurant even had a special sales program in which customers who bought a $50 gift card received a free $15 gift card as a bonus.

“We have already given several refunds at our store, and will continue to do so if somebody is on location,” the owners said in their statement. “We are putting together a plan to get these processed, and get refunds sent to people as quickly as possible. We will post additional information on this as quickly as we can.”

The Ruby Tuesday restaurant opened in Pocatello approximately eight years ago. According to the statement from the owners, the eatery had a strong management team when it opened, and the restaurant helped provide additional dining options for local residents and jobs for high school and college students.

But several management changes through the years and a struggling corporate brand damaged the local store’s financial situation, the owners said.

“The investors have been supplementing the store for the past two years hoping for things to rebound, but that rebound never occurred, and the final cash infusions to the store have been exhausted,” the owners said.

According to USA Today, Ruby Tuesday’s corporate office in Maryville, Tenn., recently reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $27.6 million, compared to a net gain of $4.3 million in the same quarter last year. To help cut the losses, the restaurant chain announced in August that it would close 95 of its locations across the United States. The Pocatello location was not included on the list.

The owners of the Ruby Tuesday in Pocatello said they hoped that strong sales in December would pull them out of the red. Unfortunately, the owners said, sales this month were not enough to keep the restaurant open.

The owners expressed regret for not telling any of their employees beforehand.

“One of the employees I spoke to after I found out said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ very sarcastically,” one employee told the Journal.

The way the closure was handled has been widely criticized, with Idaho State Journal’s readers on Facebook decrying how the employees were treated.

In the statement issued on Tuesday night, the owners apologized to their former staff.

“We have had some great and dedicated employees over the years — and some dedicated patrons who have helped support our endeavor, and for this we thank you,” the statement read. “We are sorry for the difficult position this has put our employees in, but we assure them they will all be paid on time.”