Group of employees speak out in support of owners as Paseo files for bankruptcy

According to an article posted on The Stranger’s website, a group of former Paseo employees have spoken out in support of the owners and the working conditions they faced while employed at, what is now arguably, Seattle’s most popular and controversial sandwich shop.

The My Ballard team reported Paseo’s closure on Tuesday, amid allegations that a law suit filed by four previous employees against the owners was the reason for the shop’s demise. Since Tuesday, local media has exploded with different angles on the Paseo story and the reasons behind the closure that has devastated so many.

The Stranger was contacted by nine former Paseo employees who have “watched in horror as the reputations of the owners and the restaurant itself have been dragged through the mud.” According to the article, the former employees believe that the owners’ decision to close Paseo was definitely connected to the lawsuit.

“This was the best management I’ve ever had in my life,” Camden Nixon, who had worked at Paseo for several years, told The Stranger. “We all really love it here and care about the owners. And we’ve been bummed that we’re not still serving.”

When asked about the four employees that were suing Paseo, the group was quick to tell their side of the story. They referred to the group as “the Family”, said that they “ran the kitchen” and described them as “mean spirited.”

“It took a long time for him (owner, Lorenzo Lorenzo) to feel like he could have people in place where he could lose those people,” former employee Tyler Grantham told The Stranger. “We just wanted to get the other side’s story out.”

In addition to the legal battle, reports indicate that Paseo was definitely in financial trouble. Our news partners at The Seattle Times report that Paseo Carribean Food Inc. filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on Wednesday, the day after they officially closed the shop’s doors for good.

According to The Seattle Times, when filing a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the applicant usually seeks to pay off creditors through the liquidation of property assets.

According to the article, the filing reveals that Paseo Carribean Food Inc. owes $30,425 to a variety of “unsecured creditors,” which reportedly includes several vendors and utilities and 20 workers or former workers. The filing also indicates Paseo property assests, which mostly comprise of restaurant equipment, are valued at close to $82,000. The bankruptcy filing also confirms that Paseo owners have paid over $251,000 over the past three months in payroll, employee taxes and benefits.

In addition to confirming what owners owe, the filing also indicates that Paseo reached over $2 million in sales last year, with $1.7 million to date this year.

The Seattle Times reports that Macrina Bakery of Seattle and Sea Bend Meat Co. of Shoreline are listed as the company’s biggest creditors, who are allegedly owed $10,000 each. However, when officials at both food wholesale companies were contacted by Seattle Times reporters they seemed surprised.

Vice President of Macrina Bakery, Scott France, told The Seattle Times that Macrina supplied hundreds of 5-ounce Guiseppe rolls to Paseo daily and confirmed that the business was never late with payments.

“We’ve had a good relationship with those folks for a long, long time,” France told The Seattle Times.

Similarly, Stan Ciezc, who owns Sea Bend Meat Co., defended Paseo’s owners stating that they have worked with them for over 20 years and that “they are very, very good people.”

The article reports that several government taxing authorities, including the IRS and the state’s revenue, employment security, and labor and industries departments are listed among other creditors in Paseo’s bankruptcy filing.

After the closure was announced and the bankruptcy filing confirmed, a group of Seattle entrepreneurs known as Savvy Orders launched a Kickstarter to buy the business and reinstate it exactly as it was. At this stage the group has raised $31,222.

Although the Kickstarter campaign has gained overwhelming local support, not everyone is convinced, including Stranger reporter Ansel Herz. Herz published an article titles About that “Save Paseo” Kickstarter… this afternoon indicating that many are skeptical and unsupportive of the move.

“As far as I know, from what I’ve heard from everybody, we’re all kind of bothered by it,” former employee Tyler Grantham told Herz. Grantham confirmed that Savvy Orders did not contact the former Paseo employees until after the Kickstarter was up and running. “None of us are interested in what he proposed,” Grantham said.

With so many perspectives and twist and turns it is unclear where the Paseo story will go next, however, it is sure to be closely followed by hundreds of Seattleites.

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