By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Former Atlanta Bread Company employees prepared food Thursday morning for a last donation to the Salvation Army.
Restaurant owner Hugh “Kip” D. Tigrett III greeted employees picking up paychecks Wednesday afternoon with surprise news they no longer had jobs. The business closed without notice after customers inside at 3:30 p.m. left.
This leaves 22 employees out of work and potentially a vacant commercial property on South Gloster Street.
Tigrett and former employees volunteered their time Thursday to inventory items and prepare final details for the business that opened five and a half years ago.
“We had to make a decision as to what we had to do,” Tigrett said this morning. “We do have people actively looking at the facility.”
He wouldn’t provide additional details about possible tenants for the property; however, the restaurant owner complimented staff working at the business until it closed and said he has reached out to area restaurants about hiring unemployed Atlanta Bread workers.
Tigrett and his father, Hugh D. Tigrett Jr., own the Atlanta Bread franchise, but the son and Brett Hildenbrand own the building and property. Hildenbrand owned part of the franchise when it opened in 2008 but left that partnership in 2012.
Hugh Tigrett Jr. owns other businesses, including Tigrett Steel and Supply on South Veterans Boulevard.
Lunch crowds generated the bulk of the business’ sales. Most nights, the place had few customers, resulting in financial struggles for many months.
Restaurants closing abruptly aren’t uncommon. Some owners choose the immediate news instead of facing scenarios of employees quitting before the business shuts down. Multiple employees told the Daily Journal Wednesday of shock and uncertainty related to losing their source of income.
“I feel sad for the employees, truly,” Tigrett said today as remaining workers emptied counters and storage areas. “And we appreciate all of the customers we had through the five and a half years while we were open.”
The restaurant made regular donations of the previous day’s bread to the Salvation Army to feed the community’s homeless, along with supporting food banks for the needy and the Saints’ Brew breakfast ministry at All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Atlanta Bread also hosted many benefits that donated a portion of the evening’s proceeds to a charitable cause or nonprofit.