The Kentucky Labor Cabinet has opened an investigation into National Provisions restaurant after receiving multiple complaints from employees about possible wage and hour violations.
Cabinet spokesman Jarrad Hensley said that an investigator was assigned on Tuesday, the same day that owners Krim Boughalem and Andrea Sims announced that the once-ballyhooed Lexington restaurant at the corner of Walton and National avenues was closed and is for sale.
Employees were not paid for the last two weeks despite receiving assurances that they would be paid on Monday.
“We basically worked Friday and Saturday nights for free,” said server Jessica Lujan. She said that she filed a complaint with the Labor Cabinet.
“We were supposed to be paid on Friday, went in and there were no checks. We were told he had no money but that he was waiting on a wire transfer from friends in France,” she said. “We were told we would be paid in cash on Monday. Monday came and we got a text from our boss that (Boughalem) was refusing to pay across the board.”
On Tuesday, Boughalem blamed theft by an employee for the restaurant’s money woes. According to a Lexington police report filed in July, former employee Hunter L. Damron of Danville was charged with 10 counts possession of a stolen instrument after forged checks were cashed for $4,865.70 in June. Damron is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
At least two employees also had checks from the previous pay period bounce, according to Boughalem. He said that he would pay cash to those who returned the bounced checks. However, most banks do not return cashed checks to customers any longer.
On Tuesday, employees filed complaints for the “cold checks” from National Provisions with the Fayette County Attorney’s Office.
On Wednesday, Boughalem said: “We’ll pay all the staff when I sell the restaurant,” which he said he expected to happen “in the next few weeks. We have people interested.”