Garrett's Chophouse closes suddenly, leaving employees in the lurch
MAGGIE VALLEY — Employees at the restaurant Garrett’s Chophouse had an unfortunate surprise just before Christmas when they showed up for work on Nov. 28 to find the restaurant closed with no warning.
Before the surprise closing, Garrett’s employed over a dozen people. Several of them came forward last week to express their frustration over the sudden loss of their jobs and how it all went down.
Former server, Haley Price, said that she found out about the closing from her manager who arrived at the restaurant to receive a food delivery only to find the place cleared out.
She said the manager told her that she thought the building had been robbed when she went in that day. “She told me all the food was gone as well as the liquor,” said Price.
Although no one knew it at the time, in hindsight Price said there were signs of trouble before the restaurant shut it’s doors for good.
“We were running out of food on several occasions, and we had to go over to Snappy’s to get replacement supplies,” Price said.
Garrett’s Steakhouse and Snappy’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria are both owned by Garrett Anderson.
Another employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she was aware of several occasions when the manager purchased alcohol with her own money to keep the bar stocked.
“I was more upset about the timing, right before Christmas. That was really crappy of him,” said the employee.
She said she didn’t think it had anything to do with business, as the restaurant didn’t seem to be unusually slow for the season.
“He didn’t even give it a chance for the ski season to pick up,” she said.
Tanya Cagle also worked at Garrett’s, and as a single mom, is feeling the pinch since its closing.
“He could have had the audacity to tell us. He didn’t even have the balls to do that,” she said.
Cagle said she was fortunate to find another job quickly, but it still made for a stressful holiday for her and her family.
“Without the income I relied on, I had to go to a local church for help to pay my rent,” she said.
Suspecting something was up a few weeks before it actually closed, Cagle said she asked her manager if she should look for another job, but no one had an answer for her.
“It’s tough thinking about Christmas when you’re not sure if you can provide simple things like juice and milk for your kids,” she said.
All of the employees who came forward confirmed that they had no notice of the closing. All also said they had a hard time reaching the owners, Garrett and Janet Anderson afterward to find out about their final checks.
They said the checks were finally mailed to them, but some said their checks were short anywhere from $50 to $200 dollars.
The building’s owner, Jeff Smith, who also owns Jonathan Creek Inn, next door to the former Garrett’s Chophouse, said he was just as surprised by the closing as the employees were.
“Mr. Anderson had always been a responsible tenant until now when he notified me abruptly of his intention to close the business,” he said.
Smith is in the process of advertising for a new tenant or owner for the building.
“I’d love to get a brewery in there. I think it would be great for tourism in the valley,” he said.
Anderson was reached by phone at Snappy’s about the closing.
He said that he has owned Snappy’s for 28 years and has been proud to be part of the community.
About the closing he said, “Things just didn’t work out there.”
He said that he is aware that rumors have been flying. “Everybody’s got their own thoughts,” he said.
“It is what it is,” was his brief statement.
When asked about whether he made any provisions to assist his employees, he initially said that they were all offered jobs, which he quickly retracted, saying he no longer wished to talk about it.
Employees refute the suggestion that any were offered jobs elsewhere, saying that was never an option as far as they knew.