Former Heidi's employees crowd funding to replace lost wages

Categories: News
Heidis_closed_note.jpg
The note informing customers and employees when Heidi's closed unexpectedly last week

The fallout from Heidi's closure continues. Over the weekend, a crowd funding site at Go Fund Me sprang up asking for the public's help to recoup lost wages and credit card tips for the former staff at Heidi's. We reached out to the Woodmans and the former server who started the fund to get the full story.

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The goal the former employees hope to raise is not a small amount of money -- $46,000 -- and thus far, they've raised $330. They are hoping to reclaim all of their lost wages from the month of October, including the credit card tips that they would have received on their bi-monthly paychecks. This was gratuity that customers paid that should have been given to their servers, who would then tip out the support staff, like dishwashers.

Woodman explained what happened and why his former employees have not received payment. "The unintended consequence of our decision to close the restaurant was that the bank foreclosed immediately on all assets, including bank accounts. As a result, the bank has bounced any check that was not cashed, and we have no access to any accounts. We have asked that they cover payroll checks from the funds that they have seized, but have no control over their decision at this stage. Legally we are told that they have a right to do this, and they will not budge."

Chi Ngo, the former server who initiated the site, said there was not a lot of transparency about Heidi's closing. "We all showed up to work on Tuesday, even though on Monday Stewart had sent an email saying that he was resigning as chef of Heidi's.  We stuck around for a few hours and then went home. The next day it was all over the news. Nobody reached out and told us what was going on."

When asked how the former employees arrived at $46,000 for their crowd-funding goal, Ngo said simply, "We have the payroll." In other words, they know exactly the amount of wages and tips they are owed. "I don't know the laws, but our tips are our property. We're just trying to catch up on the month. The only reason I started the website was because several of my co-workers were calling me crying."

Meanwhile, Stewart Woodman continues to hope to raise some money.  "We've been working hard to identify buyers for the hard assets to cover the loan amount in a purchase, so that the bank will release funds to cover checks. Additionally, we are personally working to secure funding to cover the checks independently, but this will take time."

Other local restaurants have reached out to the unemployed workers. "I had heard that Borough offered to hire people, so I spoke with Nick [O'Leary]. He's a friend and he confirmed that he had said something about being able to hire some of Heidi's staff. Marin has reached out as well," Ngo said.

When asked if she or any former Heidi's employees had accepted the offers of employment, Ngo laughed ruefully, "I think we're taking the week off. A lot of people are angry and hurt, but... it hasn't even been a week. Hopefully, the [crowd-sourced] fund will help pay some rent, keep the water on. But I would love it if we could refund every dollar. We're keeping track and any money that we receive from the restaurant would be refunded back [to contributors]." She went on to say, "This industry is like a family. The support means so much."

Heidi's closing was a loss for the restaurant community, for the employees, and for longtime customers. It was also very personal loss for the Woodmans.  In closing, Stewart Woodman explained, "Heidi and I poured everything we had into Heidi's. Now both financially and personally exhausted, our healthiest choice -- as parents, business owners and employers -- was to move on. We love the folks that stayed with us through a tough year, and it breaks our hearts that they have been hurt. We are not giving up on getting funds released to see that they are paid what is rightfully theirs."



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23 comments
RCSG
RCSG

I have to say, I'm shocked that anyone's been willing to work for these people at all. Their horrible treatment of employees should be pretty well known by now. After a server friend of mine asked Woodman about a customer requested substitution and was called a "cunt", I made the choice to NEVER go to any of their establishments and shared that story with anyone who suggested that they might. As I understand it, that kind of thing wasn't an isolated incident. 

citypagesfail
citypagesfail

Stewart Woodman was lying.  Good thing WCCO actually did their homework.

"An attorney for the bank in charge of Heidi’s funds said the assets have not been frozen. He said the bank will honor any checks if there is money in the account to cover them."

BigHerb
BigHerb

Dear Stewart,
You won't open another restaurant.  Will you,
Go away and don't come back.

ha18
ha18

From Stewart Woodman's facebook account, posted yesterday:

"Few days to lick the wounds, now I'm back in the saddle, on the hunt for a new location today."

You two have debt coming out of your ass, dozens of unpaid employees from TWO failed restaurants and you are going to just do this again?  How is this possible??  You should be blacklisted from this town.  

ha18
ha18

"Few days to lick the wounds, now I'm back in the saddle, on the hunt for a new location today."

From Stewart Woodman's facebook account, posted yesterday. 

Um, you have debt coming out of your ass, dozens of unpaid employees from TWO failed restaurants and you are going to just do this again?  How is this possible??  You should be blacklisted from this town.  

AKraft
AKraft

Unfortunately, Some people just don't learn from their mistakes with the bank.  But who knows, maybe my checkS from Birdhouse will show up... I have been hearing about a "plan" for 6 months.

Joe Jakubik
Joe Jakubik

So they screwed their employees and most likely a few creditors too. These fucks should never be allowed to open another restaurant until these debts are paid. Too much of this crap going on!

Melissa Kelly
Melissa Kelly

I could see donating if they were looking for work And not finding any... But they have jobs on the table for them but "they are taking the week off" What a crock!!

qdwright76
qdwright76

Look, this is shitty, I get it, but I have worked at restaurants where the doors suddenly close and pay checks never arrive. It sucks. It can fuck up your life. However, begging for donations and playing that woe is me bullshit is, well, bullshit. Shit happens. Grow the fuck up. Pound the pavement and get another job. It seems some have been offered, but, "we're taking a week off." Nut up.

Eric Foster
Eric Foster

These people should get some legal advice. Seems like they are getting screwed in a way that's not legal.

Ran Dazzle
Ran Dazzle

and yet they will open another over priced average at best restaurant and god knows screw over how many people again..said.cities should boycott his endeavors..waited on the once and they were terrible people

Grant Zinkl
Grant Zinkl

this is really taking advantage of crowd funding for good reasons..

Ellen Curran Puffe
Ellen Curran Puffe

Seriously? Crowd-funding = public begging done the extra-lazy way, online. Quite a gig.

Woody McBride
Woody McBride

Read at bottom owner is as of today looking for a new spot en lieu if these debts?

mamabird067
mamabird067

  "Few days to lick the wounds, now I'm back in the saddle, on the hunt for a new location today."

From Stewart Woodman's facebook account, posted yesterday.

Aaron Michael Scherbel
Aaron Michael Scherbel

Hey great idea, everyone should do that who gets laid off!! Of course, not everyone deserves money as much as the employees of Heidi's..

stal9901
stal9901

@Melissa Kelly They are looking to get paid for the work that they have already done, including tips left by customers based on the service received. 

markcarlson
markcarlson

^This remind anyone else of a certain chef/blogger known for his vulgar and angry rants?

Oscar
Oscar

Ellen you are a moron. If you want to bitch at anyone bitch at the owner who didnt pay his workers for work that had already been completed. F*** you.

Roberta1887
Roberta1887

@Ellen Curran Puffe Have you ever worked for 3 weeks and then not gotten paid? Also, with the bank blaming that Woodman is doing at this point, even our legal help, we have no idea when we are going to see that money. I know it's crazy, but on top of the 3 weeks tips he owes us that we LIVE on, they're also keeping their $7.25 per hour that we earned to work in a ridiculously hostile workplace. This also covers the Cooks/dishwashers and Back of House employees as well as the almost $30,000 owed to the employees of Birdhouse that closed in June. Since it's being shamed and looked down upon by people such as yourself; maybe Woodman should start the fund since it's his dirty mess - I bet far less people would call him a beggar.

ha18
ha18

@mamabird067 He has debt coming out of his ass, dozens of unpaid employees from TWO failed restaurants and he is going to just do this again?!?  How is this possible??  Stewart and Heidi should be blacklisted from this town.

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