90 Out Of Work After Sudden Closure Of Iconic Miami Beach Market

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Two weeks ago, the iconic Epicure market on Miami Beach closed their doors for good. Now, they’re trying to get rid of everything.

The store held an auction on Wednesday. Thousands of dollars worth of cooking and baking equipment, even wine, were auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It’s the last sale the iconic market on Miami Beach will make.

Owners closed the 72-year-old gourmet market after hurricane Irma.

“After Irma came, it was difficult because we had a major hit to our inventory,” said owner Jason Starkman.

To keep it open, he’d have had to shell out a $300,000 to replenish the inventory that went bad and the man power to restock it.

“We couldn’t go back in to business,” he said.

Some former employees are livid. After being informed the market was closing in this letter, a week after Irma hit, the letter also stated they no longer had health insurance. They aren’t even covered by Cobra — a law which guarantees health care coverage for laid-off employees.

“They were given a letter a few days,” said Starkman. “I’ve been a good employer, they know that.”

Joval Valdivia, a former supervisor for Epicure, thought otherwise.

“They kept giving us meetings, telling us about sales to make the company better,” he said. “I thought I was going to have a job to come to.”

Starkman claimed the employees knew Epicure was on the verge of closing.

“They were all aware of it. I’ve been carrying this business for a long time,” he said. “If Irma didn’t come, we would be fine. We would still be open.”

Former employee Michale Hebda had another theory.

“The storm was a perfect opportunity for him to close, collect on insurance and walk away. And be done with it,” Hebda said. “They didn’t do anything to prepare for the storm. They could have gotten a rented generator.”

Starkman said it was too expensive to buy a generator. So, instead, the food went bad. He claimed insurance isn’t covering it.

Now, 90 employees are out of a job.

“I don’t have a job,” said Valdivia. “I have bills. Nothing, no severance pay, no nothing.”

Epicure is auctioning off the $175,000 worth of wine and donating the food to all of the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

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