Restaurant employees locked out in Labrador West, owners AWOL

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Restaurant employees locked out in Labrador West, owners AWOL

Staff at two restaurants in Labrador City say their workplaces were shut down without warning last week and they were locked out.

Jungle Jim's and Greco's Pizza franchises in the community were owned by Jeff and Miriam Staples. 

"Miriam wants to thank everyone for their hard work," a group message sent to staff read. "This was not an easy decision."

The message also indicated staff had been paid up until Tuesday, the day before the restaurants' doors were found shut. 

In 2014, the same couple was investigated by the Canadian Border Services Agency for housing 26 temporary foreign workers in a split-level house, which would violate their agreement with the federal government.

Miriam Staples dismissed the allegations at the time as gripes from employees who had been let go. No charges were laid. 

Plans to reopen

Sean Brake, of Safari Enterprises, the franchisor of Jungle Jim's, told the CBC it had no contact with the Staples since the closure, and their cellphones appeared to be turned off. 

Brake said he believes the couple left Labrador because of economic pressures.

He said the Jungle Jim's restaurant was profitable and had no problem making sales. 

The plan is to refurbish and reopen it under different ownership but that could take two to four months. 

Grinner's Food Systems, the franchisor for Greco's Pizza, did not return calls from the CBC.

CBC also sent a Facebook message to Miriam and Jeff Staples, after a phone number for Miriam Staples appeared to have been disconnected, but had not received any response as of Friday evening.