Local Bennigan's Closure Leaves Employees As Victims In Its Wake

One of the first casual-dining chain restaurants in Tyler has suddenly closed its doors for good, leaving shocked employees and customers in its wake. Today, the parent company of Bennigan's, Metromedia Restaurant Group, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

KLTV 7 News' Lakecia Shockley talked to employees today who now need a new job.

"We lost our jobs just like that," says Priscilla Pessink. "I mean, we've got bills and rent to pay."

For Pessink and her former Bennigan's co-workers, Tuesday has been a nightmare. They came to work as usual, but found there was no work to be done.

"They told me that all the Bennigan's across the world were shut down," Pessink told us.

"I'm just out of luck all together. I was just going to work where I can make some extra money," said Quentin Montalto. "Now, I can't do anything."

For Charissa Hill losing this job near the end of the month is hard to swallow.

"I've got two kids, you know," she says, crying a little. "It's bill time, rent..."

Bennigan's employees weren't the only ones shocked by the restaurants closing.

One customer after another, were stunned to see the restaurant closed. They knocked and pulled on the doors - but still, no answer. One customer managed to get inside, only to have to come back out.

But just walking away for employees isn't as easy.

"If we try to collect unemployment you only get like eighty percent of what you make by the hour. We make like $2.13 to $2.15 by the hour because we're waitresses."

Waitresses who are now left desperately waiting for their next job. Nationwide, hundreds of Bennigan's stores closed today.

The restaurant's parent company will now liquidate their assets to pay off their 49 creditors. Bennigan's has been opened in Tyler for more than 25 years.

Lakecia Shockley, reporting. lshockley@kltv.com