More than a week after the shutter of celebrated chef and Chopped champion Matt Murphy’s Irish House, several employees have been told they will not be receiving final paychecks by his wife and co-owner Alicia Murphy, according to a report by Ann Maloney at NOLA.COM.
A chef at the restaurant, Ambrosia Otto, told Maloney that “she learned Thursday (June 8) that she would not be paid and should file for unemployment via a text from Alicia Murphy, wife of chef and owner Matt Murphy.” Rachel Bemis, a former server at the restaurant, said that Alicia Murphy told her that “the bank has frozen their assets, so they cannot issue checks.”
According to several employees, they were not even told that they would be unemployed following May 31, making the shutter seem sudden. Maloney reports that appointments for hood cleaning had been cancelled at least a day before the closure.
The Murphy's moved back to Ireland abut a year ago. Matt Murphy is the executive chef at Carton House near Dublin.
Both NOLA.COM and Eater have reached out to the Irish House for comment, but have not received a response. We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.
UPDATE (June 9, 2017): The Irish House Facebook page was taken down shortly just hours after the story broke.
UPDATE (June 15, 2017): NOLA.COM reports that several Irish, New Orleans businesses, Muggivan School of Irish Dance and Kerry Irish Pub, have stepped up to raise the roughly $16,000 needed to pay the 28 unpaid employees. Alicia Murphy sent the Advocate the following statement from Ireland:
"We are extremely grateful to Joni Muggivan, the Kerry pub and the Irish community for coming together to help our employees. The Irish community in New Orleans is so tightly knit! We have had many fundraisers through the years at the Irish House so we understand how caring that community is. We are extremely thankful, yet not surprised, by the generosity shown,” Murphy wrote.
“As you know, we had put every ounce of ourselves into the Irish House. When we left New Orleans last year to care for family in Ireland, it had been an extremely difficult decision. Although we had various managers and consultants helping to run the place, it struggled without us.
“Two weeks ago the doors were suddenly and unexpectedly closed. We notified employees immediately and told them we would try to issue paychecks earlier than required. When we discovered that the business would not make payroll, we were shocked and appalled. Right away, we contacted the Department of Labor to find out how to help our employees and then we sadly telephoned each individual person. We had used every last dollar on our employees - not on ourselves, not to reduce our debt to the bank. I'm not sure if other businesses would have done the same.
“Needless to say, the closing of The Irish House has been devastating for our family and it will take many years to recover.
“We have a great relationship with our staff and always worked to create a positive, family atmosphere at the Irish House. After all, that's an important part of Irish hospitality! We are sad that there are a couple of disgruntled employees (who we never had a chance to meet). We wish only the best for all of them and the upcoming fundraiser."