ORLANDO, Florida (KETK) – Nearly four months after COVID-19 forced the closure of restaurants across the nation, Red Lobster is still feeling the financial burden it put on employees and the company.
But they’re not the only ones.
Landlords who own the buildings of several Red Lobster restaurants have not received payment for rent during the virus outbreak.
89-year-old Lynn Spencer is the landlord of the Tyler restaurant. She says it wasn’t until the coronavirus shut down when they stopped making payments that have accumulated to over $80,000.
“I love the food, it is so good, I have never had a problem with the company,” said Spencer.
Lynn’s husband Michael is in long-term memory care and the Spencers rely on the rental income to pay medical bills and all other living expenses.
When word got out about the lack of payments, it was discovered that several Red Lobster restaurants across the nation have not held up their end of the deal.
Red Lobster has reached out to landlords to discuss payment options during the coronavirus pandemic, but with businesses now open and dine-in available, many are asking where the money is.
The Chung family says Red Lobster owes them over $125,000 and has filed a lawsuit against them.
“I would band together with the other property owners and establish that there’s been a pattern if there is one pattern of misconduct by the corporation, then I would pull our resources and hire an attorney on a contingent fee and bring that corporation into court and hold them accountable for what they owe,” said Randy Roberts with Robert & Roberts Law Firm.
In Oregon, Fred Anderegg says he would be content with partial payment until they are safe to pay in full.
“I’d like at least 50% and they’d probably all work with them until this is over,” said Anderegg.
When reaching out to corporate, the company sites COVID-19 as the reasoning behind payment difficulties.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way we are able to operate. Because of the crisis and consequent government actions, our sales remain well below normal levels. Since fixed rent is one of our largest expenses, and we haven’t been able to use the properties as intended, we are actively working with each and every one of our landlords seeking temporary accommodation.”Golden Gate Capitol
Despite the explanation, landlords say the company has not collaborated with them on an agreement.
“They denied our offer outright.”
“They should be helping american’s during the pandemic.”