The rapid expansion and just as rapid shuttering of John Campbell’s Irish Bakery certainly caught our attention last year, if only because we’d often wondered how the market got so suddenly white hot for soda bread. The mini-chain began in the Outer Richmond and opened two more locations in quick succession in Cow Hollow and Potrero in 2010, only to close them in mid-2011, keeping only the original Geary Boulevard location. According to a new piece by the Examiner, the trouble began in January 2011, when Campbell stopped being able to pay employees their wages — he even told one employee to take cash from the till to tide him over. Then the bakeries failed to reopen after Memorial Day, and employees say they discovered at that point that owner Campbell had filed for bankruptcy, and had obviously spread himself too thin.
It wasn’t until the fall that the closures became official in the press, but employees complain of going months without pay, believing Campbell’s promises that they would get paid eventually. Now, one manager is suing for $11,000, and in total, the court is going after Campbell for $57,000 in back pay, interest, and penalties on behalf of at least eight former employees.
And it sounds like Campbell has long had a problem making payroll — two years before his expansion, in 2008, an employee came after him for $42,500 in back pay and overtime.
The Geary Boulevard location of the bakery remains open, for now.