Former Chappy's Manager Says She's Still Owed Wages - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Former Chappy's Manager Says She's Still Owed Wages

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A former manager at Chappy's On Church in Nashville has been fighting back after the restaurant was closed down and the owner left town.

Former restaurant manager Susan Benson has been picketing at Chappy's because she still has not been compensated for three weeks of work.

Employees showed up to work in June to find the building had been seized by the government for unpaid taxes.

Workers said owner John "Chappy" Chapman hasn't been heard from since and they haven't been paid for work they've already done.

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.

"He's opening a restaurant in New Orleans. I don't know how one can when you claim bankruptcy three years ago and you still have a restaurant. You just move down to New Orleans and open a restaurant… and yet I'm not paid," said Benson.

She said she was just one 18 employees who still have not been paid.

A group of managers, servers and dishwashers from Chappy's on Church met weeks ago to tally up all the money Chapman owed them. In some cases they said it was thousands of dollars. They planned to take legal action against the restaurant and Chapman.

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

Employees described the last few years at the restaurant as "turbulent." They said paychecks would often bounce and they received IOUs instead of tip money.

After the restaurant was featured on the reality show "Kitchen Nightmares," they said 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 former server Nathan Lewis. "We all worked hard for Chappy. Now this is what we get."

Chappy's on Church opened after Chapman and his wife moved to Music City after Hurricane Katrina. The restaurant featured traditional New Orleans Creole cuisine.

Chapman has yet to comment on the closure of his Nashville location. Soon after the restaurant was seized for failure to pay taxes, there was a message posted on Facebook:

"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."

Benson said an attorney for Chapman told her he didn't have the money to pay her. She planned to visit Chapman's restaurant in New Orleans and picket there when that restaurant opens.  

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