KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Wings Over Knoxville on Cumberland Avenue is closed until further notice after employees say they’ve been receiving late and faulty paychecks. They say they’re struggling to pay monthly bills and many of them are worried about what could happen if this continues.
Employees at the restaurant say they haven’t been paid consistently in months. The owner of the restaurant, Pete Lodice, confirms, saying he’s been having trouble getting paychecks out on time, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for financial hardships.
Employees told WATE they were given paychecks last week, but they bounced, leaving their accounts with negative balances. Now, they’re shutting the restaurant down entirely until they start seeing some consistency in their pay.
“They come late and majority of the time they’re late, they’re wrong,” general manager Shawnte James said.
In a statement, owner Pete Lodice says it’s something he’s working on fixing.
We have had a challenge dealing with the aftermath of COVID and struggling to make ends meet as most restaurants have throughout the country. To get everyone’s pay check out on time has been a priority for me and I have been doing the best I can. After everyone receives their last weeks pay I will be having my general manager asking all the team members who would like to continue with us I am hoping that they would all like to stay since finding good team members for us has been very hard in this environment. The last year has been a challenge for us and we are doing everything we can to be able to maintain a positive relationship within the Knoxville community, our team members and being able to keep thePete Lodice, Owner, Wings over Knoxville
restaurant open. Having the payroll late has been a major concern for me and I am doing everything I can to have that corrected for our team members. I know how hard it is for them when the payroll is not received on time.
While employees wait for the issue to be resolved, their personal bills are piling up and there’s no money in the bank.
“Last week, I was really out there crying because I’m losing stuff behind this place. Beyond not getting paid. I got an eviction notice on my door, not because I’m not working, but because they’re playing with my money,” James said. “I have a tag that’s about to expire, I don’t have the money for that. I have a quarter tank of gas with zero dollars in my account, well not zero, negative 559 dollars in my account.”
For now, James says the restaurant will remain closed.
“We want our money. We’re not here to get money we didn’t work for. We want the money that we worked for. We want the respect we deserve,” James said.