Employees at eight metro area Max & Erma's restaurants were caught off guard Monday morning when they arrived to work to find "Closed" signs hanging in the windows. CBS reports that 13 restaurants across Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana have closed.
American Blue Ribbon Holdings, which operates Max & Erma's, said in a statement that several underperforming restaurants were shut down as part of a "brand revitalization" effort. The company elected to send members of its senior leadership to deliver the news in person as employees arrived to work. "This insured that each employee was dealt with individually and in person," the statement reads, adding that it would provide "each and every team member with a severance agreement."
Locations in Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Novi, Livonia, Plymouth, Canton, and Ann Arbor were affected, while restaurants at the Detroit Metro Airport and in Clinton Township continue to operate. One employee in Canton, Katelyn Polich, tells The Detroit Free Press that she was surprised by the closure considering her manager was reviewing job applications on Sunday. "I loved working at Max & Erma's, so this is sad because a lot of people who worked there were close — we were like family," she says.
Max & Erma's was founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1972 and was acquired by American Blue Ribbon Holdings in 2010. The company is expected to reveal more details of the restructuring next week.
This isn't the first time a major regional chain has surprised employees with an abrupt closure. Last January, mini cupcake empire Just Baked suddenly shuttered multiple locations, leaving many staff members without their final paychecks. The brand was later acquired by Tubby's. Then, in December, Diversified Restaurant Holdings closed eight Bagger Dave's restaurants in Michigan and Indiana including a two-year-old location in downtown Detroit.