Employees still waiting to be paid by Regions Bistro owners

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TEMPE - From busboys to managers, at least a dozen restaurant workers are still waiting to get paid by Regions Bistro.

So when the company posted an ad for open interviews on Craigslist, 3 On Your Side wanted to know how the company could be hiring.

The head server of Regions Bistro, assured a 3 On Your Side intern that payroll problems will be history when the restaurant re-opens under new ownership.

"The old CEO is still a partner, he's got brand new investors," the head server said.

That CEO is Paul Darrow, 53.? He and Pat Coughlin ran Regions Bistro before it suddenly shut down in late may, leaving at least a dozen employees unpaid.

Former employees said every single Friday it'd be Monday then Tuesday then Wednesday and they never got paid.

Since the 3 On Your Side report first aired, 3 On Your Side learned Paul Darrow's work in the hospitality industry has landed him in jail.

In 2006, he was arrested in Florida, charged with stealing $177,000 in sales tax he collected from customers, but failed to pay the state.

He was sentenced to 20-years probation.

Darrow is still trying to make it in the restaurant business, here in Arizona calling for 'investors with a minimum of $13,500 to be a part of two new restaurants opening in the next two months', the two restaurants being Regions in North Scottsdale and on Mill Avenue in Tempe.

Trouble is those former employees are still waiting on paychecks, even though Pat Coughlin told 3 On Your Side he 'hoped to have payroll matters resolved within ten days.'? That was three months ago.

"Pat and Paul pretty much tell people what they want to hear, spin it in a nice fun story, in a nice fun way, they give you a smile and a wink, to make you feel like you're being taken care of, and then they go on to take care of themselves," said Benjamin Carroll.

Former manager Benjamin Carroll claims he's owed more than $5,000, money the Department of Labor said the new owners probably won't have to pay.

"More often than not, the new owner is not liable for the old unpaid debts of a former business owner," said Arizona Labor Dept. Director Randy Maruca.

John Rosso, one of the new owners, and Paul Darrow both declined a request for an interview, but their media representative wrote, "We are sympathetic to those employees who may not have been paid by previous ownership and would welcome them to consider employment with us."

Not a chance said Benjamin Carroll who says he learned a costly lesson the last time and warns other employees at Regions or elsewhere.?

"The moment their checks don't clear to be aware of what they're getting themselves into and don't be afraid to ask the hard questions," Carroll said.

Regions Bistro in Scottsdale is back open. It's Tempe location is expected to re-open in the next few weeks.

3 On Your Side tried reaching Pat Coughlin, Region's original owner, but he never returned the calls.