Hog Heaven briefly closes over payroll dispute

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2024

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Hog Heaven is back open in LaGrange after the barbecue restaurant briefly closed on Thursday due to an employee protest for not being paid. The incident appears to be over a civil dispute between the former and new owners of the restaurant.

Hog Heaven posted on their Facebook page on Thursday that the restaurant would be closed for the evening due to a lack of staff.

“HH Family: We are closed for the evening. Due to the fact Mike did not pay his staff for his last week. Therefore, all staff called out because of his actions. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you, Management Team,” the restaurant said in the post.

Hog Heaven Manager Nani Abercrombie later said that the previous owner, Mike McCollum was responsible for all debts and payroll through April 25 and he had not paid the staff their recent checks.

“The staff has not been paid yet, as far as the date that Mike owed us for,” Abercrombie said. “They will be back. Some of them are already back today. Our new owners are trying to work with us and to make up for Mike but they are not responsible for what was owed to us for that.”

When called for a comment, McCollum said the restaurant closed on April 22 the paid the previous week’s payroll two days later.

“We pay payroll in arrears, so on the 22nd, the prior week’s pay had been accrued. It had been booked and so that got paid on Thursday. On Thursday of that week on the 25th, I paid for the prior week’s payroll right up through the day that the restaurant sold, so I paid the final payroll that I was required contractually to pay,” McCollum said.

“The confusion comes from the fact that our contract, the contract between the buyer and the seller, calls for the buyer to purchase our inventory. It’s a common practice in the business of buying and selling restaurants. You have to buy inventory in advance or on the closing day on the day that it changes hands. There’s nothing in the restaurant. So the week prior, I bought all the inventory. It was delivered Monday morning, the day we closed so they can go to work and do their jobs.”

McCollum said the contract called for the buyer to purchase that inventory, which he said was valued at $14,800 but the new buyer would not pay for it.

The Toast POS system, the thing that collects all cash and credit card receipts, was still in McCollum’s name he just kept it in his name until he had collected the value of the inventory that the new owner didn’t pay for, McCollum said.

“Because of that, he thought I still owned the restaurant and was paying for the employees. That’s just not the way it works. We closed on Monday. So I have no idea why he thinks I would pay for them,” McCollum said.

The restaurant has since posted a handwritten, but notarized agreement that appears to show McCollum agreeing to keep all proceeds up to Thursday, April 25, 2024, and pay all debts up to April 25, 2024. In the contract, McCollum also appears to agree to accept $6,000 for the current inventory on the premises.