SUMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The owners of a now closed Summerside restaurant say they did everything they could to save their business.
Local 311, located at 311 Market St., closed abruptly Jan. 11, with staff receiving a group Facebook message from owners Dave Ashford and MJ Doyle informing them of the development.
In the message, Doyle and Ashford told staff that they would be seeking bankruptcy and that any outstanding wages would be paid.
“We are sorry, but we tried everything,” they said.
The Journal Pioneer reached out to the couple for comment. They posted a public statement on Facebook and sent it to the newspaper Thursday, Jan. 17.
Doyle said they are also simultaneously trying to deal with the bankruptcy and getting their affairs in order.
“We always thought we could find a way to pull through. We were loath to give up, even in the face of certain doom.”
The couple is also speaking out in the face of what they say are nasty and false comments made towards them on social media since news of the closure was published.
To have to deal with the collapse of what was a dream opportunity to operate a family restaurant, those comments added insult to injury, said Doyle.
“Never have we seen such animosity, hatred and nastiness from the public for closing a business. We were not the first and, I suspect, we will not be last,” said Doyle. “I, personally, have never seen this type of hatred spewed to other failed businesses. Why us?”
The couple’s statement also criticized this newspaper’s coverage of the closure.
Doyle and Ashford also indicated to former staff that they suspected someone of stealing more than $100,000 from the restaurant and that they had been in contact with Summerside Police Services.
Summerside Police Services confirmed that its officers are aware of the allegations of theft at Local 311 and have been in contact with Ashford and Doyle, though the couple had not made a formal complaint as of Friday.
Doyle clarified that they would be following up with police so as soon as they are able.
After news of the restaurant’s sudden closure became known, Robert Gallant, who owns the nearby Michael’s Pizzeria and also recently became president of Downtown Summerside Inc., decided he would honour any outstanding Local 311 gift certificates at his restaurant.
Gift Cards are an important part of any establishment’s business, said Gallant, and he feels it’s important for people to know they can honour them.
“We just don’t want to see the public be out their money and get a bad feeling,” he said.