STAFF claim they are owed thousands of pounds in unpaid wages by an upmarket restaurant and bar.
The Moon Cafe Bar, on Breck Road, Poulton, opened in October and took on a variety of chefs, barmen and waitresses – until the restaurant was recently closed.
Alan Openshaw was employed as the head chef and claims the business owes him £3,993 for work carried out since he was brought in on October 10.
The 45-year-old told The Gazette: “I rent a flat, but for the first time in my life I can’t afford to pay for it.
“I thought it was just me who was owed money, but after seven weeks I realised everyone was in the same boat and I started looking into it.
“I was the only chef there and if I left nobody would get any money because without me they couldn’t sell food.”
He added he should have been paid £4,147 as of December 10 but only received £985, which equates to £1.78 per hour.
The staff members have written to lawyers and are on the brink of going to an employment tribunal to claim the money owed to them after exhausting other options.
Mr Openshaw added: “I can’t believe, in this country and in this day and age, someone is running a business like this.”
Matthew Hayes, 21, says he was owed £1,119 since December 10, but has only received £140 and was paid an hourly rate of 83p.
He added: “I’ve had to find another job because I can’t afford to live.
“You go to work and expect to get paid.
“But now I can’t go out and I’ve ended up losing the flat I live in.”
Waitress Krystyna Warachowska, 18, claims she is also owed a total of £1,902 after working 370 hours.
She added: “I was told I would be paid every Monday, but that never happened.
“I’m looking for jobs now which is very hard to do in January and it’s a big problem.
“I had been working for two-and-a-half months and I’m trying everything I can to try to get the money.”
Kevin Gallagher, general manager of the Moon Cafe Bar, has vowed to pay the staff.
He says he is opening the bar to live music acts as soon as possible in an attempt to make money.
He told The Gazette: “We are trying to get people in and get business back in and people paid.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in the business.
“I’m going to be doing 80 to 90 hours a week to make sure they get their money.”