FULTONDALE, Ala. (WBRC) - Former employees of Wintzell’s Oyster House in Fultondale claim the owner abruptly shut the restaurant down and ran off with more than 20 employees’ paychecks.
Several of the former employees reached out to WBRC FOX6 News for help, they said, after weeks of begging the owner Keith Hall to pay them.
Alexis Mahaffey and Erica Pickle are both moms and former managers at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Fultondale.
“We have employees who have had their power shut off because of the promised wages that they have not received,” said Pickle.
Since the restaurant was shuttered on Dec. 31, 2019, Mahaffey said she and Pickle had been inundated with questions from employees about their unpaid wages.
“Back of the house cooks, dishwashers, management, host, shuckers, bartenders...” called out Mahaffey and Pickle in reference to the workers owed money.
Mahaffey and Pickle claim Hall also owes them more than $2,700 dollars in unpaid wages.
“I feel bad because like, there’s nothing I can do for them. I’m like, ‘I don’t know when you’re getting your paycheck’," said Mahaffey.
“We’re looking at maybe 2000 hours of unpaid labor [for everyone],” said Pickle.
Mahaffey said she has spoken to Hall’s assistant about the checks.
“He actually said that the paychecks have been mailed. That was January 9th,” said Mahaffey.
Nearly a month later, the checks had still not been delivered, according to Mahaffey and Pickle.
“Then, they blamed the post office,” Mahaffey chuckled. “But, I’m getting all of my other mail just fine.”
The pair said they had no idea why Hall refused to pay his former employees.
WBRC made several attempts to find the owner Keith Hall; we called and sent messages by phone and online, but none of our attempts to contact Hall have been returned as of the date this article was written.
The number we believe belongs to Hall, had the “read receipts” on text messages, which showed he received and read our message asking about the missing funds.
Mahaffey said she’d also made repeated phone calls, text messages and even unannounced visits to the other Wintzell’s location on Ashville Road in Leeds, but Mahaffey said she’d been unsuccessful finding Hall.
“I’ve tried to like, text him again and call him and ask, ‘hey where are our checks?’ We tried calling everybody... corporate, nobody can help us,” said Mahaffey.
“We’re management so we contacted the payroll but we’re not authorized to get checks re-cut or redistributed,” added Pickle.
Part 2 of the investigation into the missing Wintzell Oyster House owner and paychecks airs this week on WBRC FOX6 News.