SHOCKED staff at a Spanish-themed wine bar were left hundreds of pounds out of pocket when its owner shut its doors and declared: ‘I have run out of money – I can’t afford to pay you’.
Workers at Caliente, in High Street, Burton, were left stunned after John Mason told them that he was being forced to ‘close the door on his dreams’ on Wednesday night – only three months after opening in a blaze of publicity.
Disgruntled employees told the Mail they felt they had been ‘lied to and cheated’, but Mr Mason has vowed to reopen the business and pay ‘every single person what they are owed’.
He told the Mail: “I simply could not afford to pay the staff bill and that is why I have had to close the doors.
“The staffing bill for a place like this should be £7,000 but last month it was £17,000 – it was just not manageable any more.
“The business ran out of money and I could not afford in any way, shape or form to stay open at the moment.
“But, I am going to do everything in my power to reopen and pay back every single person what they are owed.
“No matter what anyone might say I did not want this business to fail, it was my dream and all I wanted was for it to be a success.
“I am hopeful that in the next few days I will know if I can reopen, even if it is as a pub and then in the future for food.
“I admit that some employees have not been part paid for previous months work and nobody has been paid for the last month yet.
“People have to remember that if this fails I lose everything. I lose the £50,000 I invested, my house, everything.
“I am working with Enterprise Inns (who own the pub) to try and find a way out of this problem. I don’t like thinking that the 24 members of staff we have had have not been paid in some way.”
One member of staff, who asked not to be named, said: “One minute we were open and the next we were closing the business down. So many of us are owed hundreds of pounds in wages and we feel like we have been lied to and cheated. Nobody has any idea what is going on.