By Meg Graham
A River North sandwich shop gave its employees an unwelcome Christmas surprise on Sunday night, firing them all by email.
The 20 employees of Snarf’s Sub Shop at 600 W. Chicago Ave. received the email last night around 5 p.m. Grid obtained it this morning. It reads as follows.
1. Due to increased competition and losses, ownership has decided to consider remodeling and reconcepting the store at 600 West Chicago Ave.
2. The store is closing, effective tomorrow, December 23, 2013 for an unknown period of time for this remodeling and reconcepting.
3. All staff is terminated, effective Monday, December 23, 2013.
4. All staff may apply for unemployment, if eligible.
5. Return any keys and Company property to Will Ravert at 600 West Chicago Avenue on Monday, December 23, 2014 during normal business hours.
6. Payroll will be processed as usual this week and paid on Friday, December 27, 2013.
7. Keep an eye out for the grand opening of the new store.
8. Ownership appreciates your service and wish you well in your new endeavors.
Director of Operations
A Snarf’s spokeswoman confirmed the email’s contents.
The remodel will include the addition of a burger concept, according to Jill Preston, the restaurant’s director of marketing. She says the restaurant will be likely closed for more than a month.
The mass firing comes just three weeks after Snarf’s employees were striking for higher wages and better benefits. They joined workers of fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Subway, Potbelly and others in a broader strike orchestrated by the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago.
As a result, the restaurant was closed for four days, from Dec. 5 until Dec. 8, Preston says.
Preston denies that last night’s terminations are related to the strike. She says the timing of the remodel coincides with the restaurant’s slowest season.
“During the Christmas holiday we’re pretty slow,” she says. “The restaurant’s usually three quarters closed. This does happen to coincide, but this is something we’ve had planned for awhile.”
Members of the Worker’s Organizing Committee of Chicago gathered at 600 W. Chicago Ave. this morning to call for severance pay and re-employment for the fired Snarf’s employees, says Deivid Rojas, communications director for the organization.
“Three days before Christmas and not even a call,” Rojas says. “It’s not fair that management and the corporation is treating [employees] this way.”
Preston says employees will be allowed to reapply to the restaurant after it reopens.