Former McGrath's workers react to sudden closing

Are left jobless for holiday season

Former McGrath's employees react

BEND, Ore. - (Updated to add info on COIC session for laid-off McGrath's workers)

In the wake of McGrath's Fish House's sudden closure last Friday, some former employees of the Bend restaurant are now scrambling to find work over the holidays.

The restaurant had been late on its lease payments for several months, and the owner of the mall where it's located was in the process of eviction.

About 40 people lost their jobs when the 30 year-old restaurant abruptly closed its doors the night before Christmas Eve due to the ongoing dispute over late rent.

The closure came as quite a surprise to employees.

"Someone had to have known," former McGrath's associate manager John Lewis said Wednesday. "But it wasn't anyone here, and that's what's hard for me, is even the people here were just dumbfounded. Couldn't believe it."

And now, for former employees, instead of handing out menus, they're handing out resumes.

"(I'm) just sort of out passing out my resume and seeing where it goes from there," Lewis said. "As mostly a server, I sort of relied on my tips. We actually got paid on Friday, and I had blown my entire paycheck buying presents for people."

But some former employees are having a tougher time than that.

"We had a lot of people who were in less favorable life situations, who were using McGrath's as a good stepping stone," Lewis explained.

Bend was the first McGrath's location outside its original home in Salem. In 2010, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed four restaurants.

It is still not known what will happen next to the site of McGrath's..

The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and WorkSource Oregon will hold a "rapid response" information session for laid-off McGrath's workers next Tuesday from 9-10 a.m. at their office at 1645 NE Forbes Road, Suite 101. No registration is required.

Topics will include filing for unemployment, funding for short-term training and certifications to find a new job, job-search assistance, computer and work-readiness workshops and guidance on finding health insurance through the federal exchange.

For more information or questions, call COIC/WorkSource at 541-389-9661.

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