Restaurant’s closure catches employees by surprise

Published 12:02 am Thursday, May 21, 2015

The closing of a local fast food restaurant came as a surprise to many, including the restaurant’s employees.

On Wednesday, some employees of the now closed Krystal restaurant, located at 421 W. Elk Ave., spoke with the Elizabethton Star about the closing and how it has affected them.

“They never told us anything and they knew for two weeks that they were closing,” said Crystal Williams, who worked as the assistant general manager of the restaurant. “The property was sold. They sold it two weeks ago and never told us.”

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Several of the employees showed up for their shift on Monday expecting to work but instead found something they were not expecting – representatives of GSM Enterprises, the franchise owner for the local Krystal, were inside the restaurant closing it down. The local managers did not know anything about the closing Williams said.

“The store closed at 4 o’clock in the morning and they never told anyone,” she said.

Thomas Cox, a three-year employee of the restaurant was one of those who showed up to work Monday morning to find GSM Enterprises representative Randal Thomas who informed him the restaurant was closed.

“I went in to work Monday morning and he had me closing the store down,” Cox said. “They came in and shut us down and didn’t give us any notice.”

Holly Callahan learned she was out of a job when a friend and co-worker called her.

“She called me during my child’s graduation on Monday and said ‘Don’t bother coming to work tomorrow, they are closing us down,’” Callahan said.

Callahan had only recently been hired at the restaurant along with two other people.

“I haven’t even gotten my first paycheck yet,” she said.

One thing all the former employees have agreed on is that the company has not been helpful during the process.

Under state law, when an employer terminates an employee, they are required to provide that person with a separation notice giving the reasons for separation within 24 hours.

Williams, Cox and Callahan all said that while the restaurant closed on Monday morning, it was not until Wednesday afternoon that they were provided with the document, required for anyone who attempts to file an unemployment claim.

“I got my separation notice today and that’s because I had to chase them down,” Williams said. Both Cox and Callahan said they too had to track down GSM Enterprises representatives in order to get the paperwork.

The franchise operation has also not assisted the displaced employees in finding jobs at other restaurants in their franchise according to the former employees.

“They told us it was on us to call the other stores to see if they had any openings,” Williams said.

The lack of notice is what hit most of the employees the hardest, Cox said.

“I’ve got four young ones to take care of,” he said. “If they had given me some notice, I could have found another job.”

The Elizabethton Star left messages for Thompson and also for Angela Johnson, director of marketing and communications for Krystal Company but neither returned calls before press time.

A check of the company’s website ( on Wednesday showed that the Elizabethton location had already been removed from the company’s list of restaurant locations.