TEMPE - Numerous Regions Bistro and Bar employees have contacted 3 On Your Side over the past year, saying they've been given the runaround when it comes to getting paid by the restaurant.
Months after Regions first opened, both locations in Scottsdale and Tempe, abruptly shut down leaving at least a dozen employees without a paycheck.
Recently, Regions reopened both businesses. But it didn't last long.
The Tempe location is once again closed, and again 3 On Your Side is hearing from employees.
Workers showed 3 On Your Side what they say is a recent list of employees waiting on money from the restaurant. Total amount owed: $14,000.
Chef Angelo Ivery and hostess Brooke Serwa are on that list, as is waitress Alicia Bence, who says she found out about the job the way many people did.
“I heard about it on Craigslist. There was kind of a job fair for them,” Bence said.
3 On Your Side was there too, undercover, when Regions held open interviews in July and were assured the problems of the past were over.
“The old CEO is still a partner, he's got brand new investors,” the head server told 3 On Your Side.
But Angelo Ivery says unfortunately, things aren't any smoother now.
“I heard that he had done this in the past, and I saw that he was doing it again and he must be stopped, too many people's lives are at stake, he's hurting too many people,” Ivery said.
The "he" Ivery is talking about is Paul Darrow, a man serving a 20-year probation sentence for tax theft at his South Florida restaurants.
Our 3 On Your Side producer caught up with Darrow to ask him about the paycheck problems we've been hearing so much about.
“Seems you're having some trouble paying your employees?” our producer asked. “What's going on?”
“Not at all. All the employees are getting paid,” Darrow said.
“Well I've got a list of folks here who have complained to us that you're not,” our producer said.
“Well they may be incorrect,” Darrow replied.
Darrow went on to tell us employees in the latest round of complaints are misinformed, and don't understand exactly for whom they're working.
Darrow says it's not him and claims to be a business consultant for Regions.
However, employees told us he plays a much bigger role.
“Bottom line is you're the common denominator in everything that's been going on,” our producer said.
“I understand and I agree and that may be very misleading and confusing,” Darrow said.
Angelo Ivery says he is clear about one thing - he's still waiting to get paid - and had this to say after we showed him our conversation with Darrow:
“This is his way of blowing smoke to make you believe that everything's okay when it's not.”
Many employees say they've been issued paychecks, but that they weren't able to cash them because of a lack of funds.
However, we're told since 3 On Your Side stepping in this time, some of those checks have actually cleared.
In a statement on 3/19/10, Darrow wrote:
“I have worked with the ownership to ensure that the employees were paid today, as was originally intended with the closure of Regions Tempe. Payroll was delivered this afternoon and all employees that we could reach have been notified that their checks are available.”
Two days earlier he wrote:
“A business decision was made to close Regions Bistro & Bar in Tempe, as this was an under performing location and the dining concept was inconsistent with the changing demographic of Tempe.
It was brought to my attention that some employees have not received their final payment, consisting of two weeks of payment or less. All employees will be paid by the legal owners, New Restaurant Ventures 6th & Mill, LLC, by the end of the month. The closure affected about 20 employees, some of which have been offered positions at our Scottsdale location. Others have been helped to find new employment. I am the Managing Director of Regions, with no ownership. I am continuing negotiations with the ownership to ensure this issue is resolved and that all employees are paid.”