LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA (CBS4) – More than a dozen employees of two Subway stores in Broward say they’ve been ripped off and left jobless by the store’s owner.
While the employees take their cause to the streets, CBS4 News has learned the store’s owner, Gregg Hade, faces even more accusations — in a courtroom from a pair of fellow Subway franchisees who are suing him.
The employees at a Subway store on A1A in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and another store on Federal Highway in Pompano Beach say they arrived at work Monday to find the locks changed, the stores closed and equipment missing.
Worst of all, the employees say, most of them never received their paychecks. One employee — many of whom are teenagers — showed CBS 4 News a handwritten check she says she received from Hade over the weekend. She said it bounced.
Joan Portela says she is owed hundreds of dollars.
“I’m just so upset,” Portela told CBS 4′s Carey Codd. “Last night I had a hard time sleeping over all this.”
Hade appeared to be a rising star in the Subway chain. He even appeared in online corporate videos touting his success at catering to employees of Broward County Schools. The video was removed from the internet Tuesday afternoon.
“Three years later, we have 100 schools that we deliver and cater to on a daily basis,” Hade said in the video from several months ago. Other store owners are seen on camera discussing the tens of thousands of dollars they are making through the catering business.
Ryan Gurca is the manager of the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Subway. He said it appeared to him that the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea store was profitable.
“The business is good,” Gurca said. “It’s crazy. Especially right now. This is season. If you were going to do this why would you do it now? He was making money here. Like a lot of money.”
Hade hasn’t said much about his current situation. The employees say they haven’t been able to reach him and two phone numbers for him are disconnected. CBS 4 News tried to visit his home but a news crew was turned away at the front entrance to his gated community.
CBS4 News has also learned that Hade faces even more trouble.
Fellow Subway franchisee Mike Silvestri says Subway recommended that he ask Hade to help him get adjusted to the business. Instead, Silvestri says Hade took more than $50-thousand dollars from him.
“We figured out that this was a scam that he was pulling,” Silvestri said. “He was funneling money out of our store right around payroll time and rent time. Every two to four weeks large sums of money would come out of the store account and he’d funnel it into this store’s account.”
Silvestri and another Subway franchisee are suing Hade saying he took a total of nearly $90-thousand dollars of their money.
Silvestri said he feels terrible for the people who lost their jobs and their pay.
“I did not foresee this coming,” Silvestri said. “And you feel for those kids. I know those kids.”
The attorney for the Subway owners told me he hopes to have a civil judgment against Hade in a week or two. Attorney Scott Weiselberg wrote in his lawsuit that Hade admitted “stealing from his business partners.” The lawsuit also says that Hade was asked to pay the money back but he “refused.”
Weiselberg said his clients want to be repaid.
“They were defrauded by Gregg and monies that were supposed to be used for the purposes of running my clients stores were taken by Gregg for the assistance of running his failing stores,” Weiselberg said.