The Phantom Quiznos of Holman Road

Fast-food shop owner takes off, employees take over.

It was a scene right out of “Home Alone,” but the locale was a Quiznos Sub shop in North Seattle, where the franchise owner was absent for weeks and the skeleton crew made do with a dwindling food supply and a lot of irate customers.

“Due to bad owners we are out of a lot of things, please do not get mad at the employees & manager,” explained the cardboard sign on the door.
Inside, the dessert section was empty, the chip shelves were mostly bare (except for jalapeño chips) and the soda machine was fringed with little white “out of order” signs (except for Vanilla Coke).

“I’ll have a large Out of Order,” cracked one customer on Tuesday.

“Is that with ice or without?” Dawna Lentz, the store manager, shot back. Things had been this way since November, Lentz said, just a month after the sub shop opened in a little strip mall on Holman Road.

It’s in not in the article, but in act 2 of 287 (you can listen for free; transcript here) they explain that the owners just stopping paying attention to it and abandoned the place. No, really, they did, just stopped returning phone calls, refilling the bank account on the money-losing place, everything. The bank account emptied out, the manager ran off, the delivery companies refused to deliver, they ran out of almost all food, and the employees KEPT WORKING. Dawna Lentz gave herself a battlefield promotion to manager and bought lunchmeat from grocery stores using whatever was in the till. Quiznos corporate told her it was the owner’s problem, not theirs.

They kept working, often getting paid a dollar or so, because “the economy was really bad” and they were worried about getting another job. After media attention corporate swooped in lying about how gosh, they had no idea, let us help.

Once the media attention died down corporate left, and eventually it closed. The employees are still owed a ton of wages.

If you want a story summarizing what life is like at the low end of the economy in the US, well, here you go. Jesus fucking christ.

The PI Moms episode is fantastic too.

holy fsck!

You realize that was six years ago, right? Read the date on the article. Not that it necessarily counters your argument, but I think you could have found something more recent to support your point.

That PI Moms sting was rather big news around here for a few months early this year, as you can imagine. A whole bunch of dirty cops got caught up in it and they destroyed a bunch of drug cases and overturned a whole mess of convictions and whatnot. Then it came out that they were running a prostitution ring and falsifying arrests and setting up fake DUI arrests and all sorts of nastiness. Oh dear, it was quite a mess.

Fucking cops, jesus.

The next time I hear something in the car that I think is interesting I’ll remember not to share it if it’s too old.

You didn’t share it because it was interesting, you shared it because you wanted to make a point. And the point you wanted to make has a lot more recent examples then the actions of a total moronic franchise owner from back when the economy was in a lot better shape (WA state unemployment was 5.3% at the time and it was improving, so hardly a “really bad” economy).

Thanks for reading my mind about my true intentions! Let me know if you find the assembler knowledge that’s gone missing.

The last line of your original post must not exist then?

I’m surprised by some of your posts. Its like you don’t realize this stuff. Makes me wonder what your job history has been because this has been going on forever.

Jason never lets facts or relevance get in the way of whatever point he is trying to make.

I’m also not clear where “The employees are still owed a ton of wages” comes from either. The Seattle Times article about the closure of the story says Quiznos corporate paid back wages owed when they took over the store, so that was presumably cleared up. And the “This American Life” piece only mentions that the manager was waiting for her last paycheck, but that was aired only three weeks after the store closed. Granted, she should have been paid by then, but that’s still not proof that six years later the employees were owed a ton of money.

I’m surprised that employee still stick around after owner abandon the business, wouldn’t spending time looking for a job better than working for no pay?

Exactly. I mean its great that she took responsibility for it, and in the end she learned an awful lot because of that, but if I wasn’t being paid and everybody was ignoring me the first thing I’d be doing is looking for another job. That’s why I mentioned the unemployment rate at the time and the fact it was on the decline, because the idea it was a bad economy just doesn’t seem supported.

Unemployment rate by education.

As you can see, the economy was just great for people with low skills in 2005.

economy suck for people with low/no skills any year, but that doesn’t really answer the question of “Why don’t they look for another low skill job”, like flipping burger at some fastfood place. especially since they aren’t getting paid.

That’s a national chart, though. And its still 5% (or so) or below in 2005 for everyone other then those without a high school diploma. And since the hero of this story was 25 and “saving for school” I think we can safely assume she had a high school diploma.

So I don’t think that chart proves what you think it does.

I mean, in my state (AK) the overall unemployment rate is only 8% right now and I don’t see folks jumping out of their jobs right and left without the next thing lined up and locked in.

At the uber low end of the skill/experience pool (which is getting deeper every week, we have college grads thrilled to work for us near full time for free) it’s worth mentioning that having any job or volunteer gig, regardless of pay, looks a heck of a lot better than resume whitespace.

Also, the young lady who had never made more than 8.50 an hour who got ‘manager’ experience (and the Ira Glass bump, but no one can predict that) clearly came out ahead of where she ultimately would have been if she walked from a marketability standpoint.

She doesn’t have a job at that point, she is basically doing it for free. It’s great that she came out ahead, but people win lottery all the time, and I don’t see myself recommending people buy lottery tickets.

I know College student want some intern experience, but she isn’t in college, and she is probably trying to make a living.

She’s doing it for the experience that makes her look good to the next employer. Actually, after listening to the TAL segment I think she’s just psychologically bad at giving up on things, (I sympathize) but the point I’m trying to make is that until you have that next job, it looks better to keep doing stuff for free.

There’s a pervasive myth out there that folks on the lower end of the economic ladder are universally lazy. Folks that do hiring (especially for minimum wage gigs) often buy into this myth and view ANY resume whitespace as a sign of this laziness and write off potential employees based on such whitespace or frequent employer changes.

Avoiding these should be priority 1 for folks trying to make it in unskilled service/retail space and a reasonably high priority for anyone trying to get an entry level job that doesn’t select based on an audition, portfolio or publication record.

I imagine any employer would be glad to hire someone who works for peanuts.