Bouncing paychecks have former employees of Dominique's losing their Christmas cheer and regarding the restaurant's owners as a couple of Scrooges.
The executive chef, manager and several other former employees recounted problems with attempts to cash checks issued Dec. 12 by Dominique's, the bankrupt restaurant-turned-catering operation in the Brokerage.
Those checks, drawn on Maryland National Bank, cannot be cashed because of insufficient funds in the Dominique's account, they said.
"I'm owed $961," said former manager Julia Kalthof, 30, who stopped working at Dominique's a week ago after it shut down its failing restaurant business and decided to focus exclusively on catering parties. "I have a mortgage payment that's late."
Co-owner Herbert Ezrin, contacted in the successful flagship Dominique's in Washington yesterday, said the bad checks were a result of "a problem with the bank. It is all being taken care of. It is a banking error that will be corrected."
"The reason why they bounced is because the bank branch manager, without notifying me, upon hearing we had closed the restaurant, closed the account," he said yesterday. "He [the bank manager] returned by cashier's check all the deposits I had made to cover my payments. I received one on Saturday and confirmed today the others are on the way back to me.
Mr Ezrin said some of the workers were paid yesterday, and others' paychecks would be sent by mail. "We're distressed not able to get to them before Christmas," he said. All workers would be be paid "as soon I receive money back from the bank," he said.
4 A bank spokesman could not be reached yesterday.
Bruce Bardarik, Dominique's executive chef until a week ago, said the restaurant owes him well over $1,000. "I've got a mortgage payment, a car payment and a baby coming in a month," he said. "We've got some owners of a restaurant who are playing Scrooge."
Several workers said yesterday that they have been given a variety of excuses about the bad checks and promises that they will be made good. Most said Mr. Ezrin has been a good man to work for and seems to love the restaurant business, along with his partner Henry Prati.
"He's a very pleasant, very nice guy, but that doesn't pay our checks," said Keith Daris. "I can't even get my girlfriend a Christmas present."