Former Employees Fight Back Against Chappy's On Church - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Former Employees Fight Back Against Chappy's On Church

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by Emily Luxen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - One week after a troubled Nashville restaurant was shut down by the state for unpaid taxes, former employees are fighting back.

A group of managers, servers and dishwashers from Chappy's on Church met Tuesday for the first time since the restaurant closed.  They spent the afternoon tallying up all the money the restaurant owes them, and in some cases, it is thousands of dollars.  They want to take legal action against the restaurant and owner John Chapman.

"I think we're doing what's right," said former Manager Susan Benson. "We want our money, we want justice."

When employees showed up to work last Tuesday they found the restaurant locked and a government seizure notice on the door.  They haven't heard a word from Chapman since.

"I was shocked," said former server Nathan Lewis. "I realized I'm not going back to work, and I guess I'm not getting paid for the work I've done."

Chappy's on Church, which features traditional New Orleans Creole cuisine, opened after Chapman and his wife moved to Music City after Hurricane Katrina. 

Employees describe the last few years at the restaurant as "turbulent."  They said paychecks would often bounce, and they received IOU's instead of tip money.

Employees said after the restaurant was featured on the reality show "Kitchen Nightmares," the working environment only got worse.

"We would have to wait weeks to cash checks," said Benson.  "It became stressful."

Despite tough times, employees said they stayed loyal to Chapman out of respect for him and their co-workers.

"We all worked hard," said Lewis. "We all worked hard for Chappy.  Now this is what we get."

Despite financial woes in Nashville, New Orleans City Business reported Chapman has filed for a permit to open Chappy's Restaurant in New Orleans' Riverbend area.

"I wish I could stand outside the restaurant with a sign warning people," said former server T. J. Zenker. "It will be the same story."

Chapman, or his attorney could not be reached for a comment.  He did post a message on the restaurant's Facebook page last week:   "I love Nashville. Nashville's been great to us and we love all our customers! This is a very sad day since we have worked so hard. We shouldn't have done Kitchen Nightmares. We have spent several months struggling to come out of a negative situation. Plans are forthcoming right now and in the meantime, we are taking a break and spending time with family. Thank you."


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