It almost seemed like one of those tales of venture (vulture) capitalism that were bandied about during the Romney campaign of 2012 - the ones where a group of corporate raiders (politely called venture capitalists - like Romney) would buy up successful businesses, sell their assets, raid the pension fund, and then declare bankruptcy and sell what was left of a once-profitable business for pennies on the dollar. Nobody made money except for the thieves at the top.
Tales like that took a personal turn yesterday morning when employees at the local Ryan's Steak House showed up for work only to find that they - and the customers - had been locked out. The joint had closed, without notice, leaving forty to fifty poor souls jobless - some of whom had worked at the restaurant for nearly twenty years. The diners were left with options of scurrying across the boulevard to grab a buffet plate at KFC or heading home to deal with leftovers.
The sign on the door told customers to check out the Ryan's website to find another location, and employees were instructed to come by between two and six in the afternoon to collect their final paychecks. Hasta la vista, baby.
I am not a fan of Ryans, or Golden Corral, or Luby's, or any of those other cafeteria-type places where people have to lean in over the food and try not to cough, or sneeze, or drool while serving themselves. I like my meal to come to the table straight from the kitchen where I don't have any direct knowledge of who did what to the food before it landed in front of me. So the closing of the local Ryan's won't negatively impact me - other than being an insult to my adopted community and decreasing our local economic base - and thus making life here just a wee bit harder for everyone - and much harder for the displaced food service workers.
Ryan's had been owned by a company called Ovation Brands until last August when the entire chain was sold to an outfit called Food Management Partners. Yesterday, the corporate weasels at Food Management Partners announced they were closing seventy-four stores nationwide - all without prior notice.
This, folks, is exactly how Mitt Romney made his fortune!