Workers not told Bar Louie would close

By Brittany Abeijon

Bar Louie, 510 E. John St., closed Sunday after almost two years in Champaign. Kelly Kircher of the corporate office in Chicago said Monday that the problems were financial.

“We couldn’t keep up with the dollar beers that other campus restaurants have,” he said.

Zach Wagner, a former Bar Louie employee and junior in Engineering, said he and 40 other employees received an e-mail on Sept. 30 informing them that they no longer had jobs. A meeting was also held Sunday, but Wagner did not attend.

In an e-mail to major liquor vendors and Restaurants-America, the company that owns Bar Louie, Wagner wrote that his managers were aware that all employees would no longer have jobs, but they withheld the information.

Wagner said the restaurant was open on Saturday and he had no idea it would be closed on Sunday.

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“No one even told us,” he said.

Wagner wrote in the e-mail that Restaurants-America’s handling of the situation created lifetime enemies of the Restaurants-America brand name, sponsors and all vendors.

“(Restaurants-America’s) lack of hospitality is alarming,” Wagner wrote. “If all American companies were run like yours, this country would cease to be American.”

The company declined comment Tuesday.

Bar Louie opened in Champaign on Feb. 1, 2006, and was known for its signature martinis, wine bar, handcrafted beers and weekly deals, including $1 burgers. The space the restaurant occupied is for sale.