On the eve of Thanksgiving, employees at several San Diego-area Little Caesar's Pizza franchises claim they're not getting paid.
It’s all part of a much larger fight between Yaroun “Tony” Bith, owner of several San Diego County franchises, and the Little Caesar’s corporate office that's now trying to shut him down.
One employee has already filed a civil suit against Bith who owns at least 17 pizza parlors from Alpine to Chula Vista and up to Encinitas.
Bith was accused of bouncing checks and having health hazards in some of his restaurants, which led to stores being closed and an apparent shortage of cash.
The lights are off and a sign on the Little Caesar's door in Barrio Logan reads: "Temporarily closed for maintenance."
Armando Gonzalez and his son were disappointed to pull up and find the store closed.
“It’s my favorite pizza,” said Armando Gonzalez Jr.
Gonzalez’s father isn’t happy to hear how Bith has allegedly been treating his employees. Some of them claim their paychecks have been bouncing.
“It’s not fair. They work, they receive money, that’s the law,” said Gonzalez.
Corporate Communications Manager Jill Proctor released a statement that reads in part:
“We do not condone nonpayment of crew members by any of our owner-operators, and we are extremely disappointed that this occurred...the franchisee who is no longer part of the Little Caesars brand, is still required to pay his employees."
Employees aren't the only people Bith is accused of stiffing.
Little Caesar's corporate office filed a complaint against him in July, claiming at least 10 checks he sent them from September 2018 to April 2019, totaling more than $160,000, have been returned for insufficient funds.
The complaint also notes there were signs of pest infestation, mold on equipment and use of expired ingredients at unspecified locations Bith owned across the county.
NBC 7 wasn’t able to reach Bith by phone and no one answered the door at his home in a gated Chula Vista community.
The Department of Industrial Relations is asking former employees who were not paid to call them and file a claim.
They can be reached at (844) 522-6734 or online at www.wagetheftisacrime.com.
Bith owns the following stores in San Diego County
- Franchise #1250-002, 539 Sweetwater Road, Spring Valley, CA 91977
- Franchise #1250-003, 642 Palomar St., Ste. 408, Chula Vista, CA 91911
- Franchise #1250-005, 1495 East Plaza Boulevard, National City, CA 91950
- Franchise #1250-007, 601 San Ysidro Blvd., Ste. 140, San Diego, CA 92173
- Franchise #1250-008, 220 Euclid Avenue, San Diego, CA 92102
- Franchise #1250-009, 2850 National Ave., Ste. 104, San Diego, CA 92113
- Franchise #1250-010, 1730 Alpine Boulevard, Suite 204, Alpine, CA 91901
- Franchise #1250-011, 3782 Voltaire Street, San Diego, CA 92107
- Franchise #1250-012, 1229 Morena Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92110
- Franchise #1250-013, 4128 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92105
- Franchise #1250-014, 2368 Pso. de las Americas #105, San Diego, CA 92154
- Franchise #1250-015, 16477 Bernardo Center Drive, San Diego, CA 92128
- Franchise #1250-016, 23 Naples Street, Chula Vista, CA 91911
- Franchise #1250-017, 5151 Waring Road, San Diego, CA 92120
- Franchise #1250-018, 1900 Main Street, Suite 117, San Diego, CA 92113
- Franchise #1250-019, 3001 Bonita Road, Suite 500, Chula Vista, CA 91910
- Franchise #1250-020,118 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, CA 92024