MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A violent armed robbery sent two restaurant employees to the hospital late Sunday night.

It happened just before midnight inside the Red Lobster at 11550 N Kendall Drive.

The restaurant was closed for the night and employees were inside completing their end of shift duties. As an employee left through the front door, she was confronted by two armed men in their 30s who had their faces covered by shirts or skullies, according to police.

Watch CBS4’s Gaby Fleischman’s report, click here.

The armed men then dragged the employee back inside.

“That’s when they ordered everybody at gunpoint to surrender their cell phones,” said Miami-Dade police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta.

According to police: The men then pistol whipped the shift manager, 52-year old Edith Olivares, as they demanded she open the safe. They also assaulted the bartender, 24-year old Leron Reid, by hitting and kicking him several times.  Once the men stole the cash from the office, they hustled everyone into one of the freezers and closed the door.

“They left these people inside a freezing cooler. It was very brazen what they did, it was total disregard for life by leaving them in there. Luckily, according to the general manager, there are mechanisms in place in these coolers where they are able to get out, but these individuals don’t know that,” said Det. Zabaleta.

One of the employees was able to open the door and call police. Both Olivares and Reid were taken to the hospital.

Both employees had been released as of Monday afternoon, according to Red Lobster General Manager Neil Anderson.

“These are desperate people doing desperate things for very little remuneration. Unfortunately these are the times we live in, people are doing desperate things,” said Anderson.

Police said the robbers got away with about $500.

Customers arriving at the restaurant were surprised to hear what happened.  “It’s very nice. It’s very quiet; you wouldn’t think that sort of thing would happen here,” said Nelson Alfonso.

If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.

Watch Summer Knowles’ Report

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