Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What went wrong at Treasure Island?

[VIDEO] While it's a brief news clip, check out the above video with regards to the closure of Treasure Island. It had a number of locations throughout the Chicago area and I used to frequent the one that was located in Hyde Park. I wanted to emphasize the impact not just on the foodie culture it helped to insure, but mainly on the workers who were employed with that company. The more I read about this subject, the more I realize the company was in shambles.

Which is why I share this article from Crain's Chicago Business. Bear in mind this article could be behind a paywall, however, I will offer a brief excerpt.
Still, the company soldiered on. Christ Kamberos' second wife, Maria—a former commercial real estate agent who met Kamberos when she was working on the Clybourn Avenue development and married him in 1986—took on an increasing role in the chain in the early 2000s.

When Christ Kamberos died in 2009, more drama ensued. The following year, a daughter from his first marriage sued Maria Kamberos in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that the second wife manipulated an aging Christ Kamberos into eliminating his daughter as a major beneficiary. The suit pointed out that Maria Kamberos was 31 years younger than her husband and alleged that she took advantage of the Treasure Island co-founder's diminished mental capacity to convince him to change his will. As a result, money initially willed to his offspring came under Maria Kamberos' control. The daughter, Christi Kamberos Matthews, claimed the estate was worth "in excess of several million dollars" and asked for compensation exceeding $1 million. The case was eventually settled.

After Christ Kamberos' death, Maria Kamberos became president and CEO and appointed her son, Christ Kamberos Jr., vice president of development. (Frank Kamberos, who is in his 90s, ceased playing an active role in the chain long ago. Whether he remains an owner in Treasure Island could not be determined, but public records show he does retain ownership, along with Maria Kamberos, of the real estate affiliated with the stores.) They renovated the Gold Coast store in 2013 and the Lake Shore Drive location last year, though some shoppers were underwhelmed by the efforts in comparison to the new Whole Foods and Mariano's stores that cropped up after the demise of Dominick's. As recently as October 2017—a decade after opening in Hyde Park, its newest location—Christ Kamberos Jr. said publicly that the company would open an eighth location in a new luxury apartment development in Uptown. (The store never materialized.)

But inside the stores and the corporate office, employees say, operations notably deteriorated at the beginning of 2018.

Inventory deliveries were intermittent for most of 2018, according to six employees, all of whom asked not to be named. Photos provided to Crain's by a senior employee show a loaf of Treasure Island bakery bread with a July 24, 2018, sell-by sticker placed on top of an original July 4 sticker. Moreover, store-level employees say paychecks not deposited immediately would sometimes take days to clear or would bounce.

At corporate headquarters above the Lakeview store, according to employees, more trouble brewed. The fact that something was amiss became clear to Antoine Wright, a former dairy manager, in summer 2017. After noticing his payroll deductions for child support mysteriously spiked to $220 from $170, he contacted the Illinois State Disbursement Unit, which processes the payments and sends the money to recipients. "I come to find out (the disbursement unit) has not received one payment," says Wright. The extra money was being garnished to cover the missed payments.
Like I said, a mess. Read the whole thing.

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