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Catherall clan’s Atlanta restaurant empire shuts down

The operator of such celebrated Atlanta-area restaurants as Prime, Shucks and Coast unexpectedly shut all 10 of its outposts on Monday, leaving an estimated 1,000 employees without jobs—or a final paycheck.

Here to Serve Restaurants was the multi-concept in charge of chef Tom Catherall until he turned over the company to his then-wife, Leigh Catherall, in 2012 as part of a divorce settlement.

Leigh Catherall, now CEO of the company, told workers on Friday via email that the checks they were due that day would be available Monday. When they showed up at the restaurants where they were employed, they found the places shuttered.

A follow-up e-mail said the checks would be ready Wednesday. Local media say the former staff was still waiting for the overdue pay as of yesterday afternoon.

Other Atlanta restaurateurs have said they were as surprised as the employees were by the closings. The restaurants opened by the Catheralls during the last 20 years had seemingly been warmly received by local diners. They had become a routine part of the metropolitan area’s many shopping centers and malls.

Here to Serve posted an apology on its website for the sudden closures. “We are working on reorganization,” the notice read. “We hope to be here to serve you again soon.”

Tom Catherall issued a statement expressing appreciation of his former company’s employees, but noted that he is no longer at the helm of the operation.

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