LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Lynn's Paradise Cafe, one of Louisville's most popular restaurants and a kitschy staple of the Highlands neighborhood, abruptly closed its doors for good on Friday.
In a brief statement released early Saturday morning, owner Lynn Winter said, "Thank you to all of our loyal customers and faithful employees for making it possible to a run a 22-year business. It's been a great run and we've had a ton of fun. The time has come to move on to new creative ventures."
Winter gave no specific reason for her decision.
Earlier on Friday, Lynn's Paradise Cafe came under intense scrutiny when current and former Lynn's employees and Kentucky Jobs with Justice launched a campaign aimed at stopping what Kentucky Jobs for Justice Executive Director Flaco Aleman called "disrespect and abuse" of the restaurant's workers.
The group cited, among other grievances, the termination of two employees over a new restaurant policy requiring servers to carry $100 cash at all times in order to "tip out" coworkers.
Aleman said it's a policy that is not only inconvenient for workers living paycheck to paycheck, but it is also against Kentucky law. "The law says workers cannot be forced to tip pool in Kentucky," Aleman said. "It can be an agreement -- a voluntary agreement -- but it cannot be forced."
Lynn's Chief Operating Officer Patty Schnatter confirmed the new policy. She said it was for the benefit of the employees, not the company. Schnatter said it would make it easier for them to file taxes at the end of the year and buy into insurance.
After learning of the complaints, Schnatter said restaurant management was reviewing the new policy and taking a poll of current employees to determine what they wanted to do.
Friday afternoon, Schnatter said legally she could not comment about specific personnel issues, but issued the following statement: "For 22 years Lynn's Paradise Cafe has been committed to working with our employees to create a positive working environment through the challenges of an ever-changing economy.
We are disappointed to learn that a few former employees and third-party agitators have some disagreements with us at this time. The issues raised arise from personnel matters that we cannot and will not discuss publicly.
We are reviewing all of the issues raised, we are listening to the concerns and we will respond at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner."
Several hours later came the announcement from owner and president Lynn Winter that Lynn's Paradise Cafe had served its last meal.