Heidi's co-owner Stewart Woodman said Central Bank froze all his restaurant's assets and that's why he couldn't pay his former employees, but now, the lender is responding and telling a very different story.
Last Friday, Fox 9 stopped by the home of Stewart Woodman, the co-owner and head chef of Heidi's Restaurant on Lyndale Avenue for an explanation.
"We on the advice of our attorney paid payroll taxes so by law the paychecks would have to be released, but Central Bank has not decided to do that," Woodman said last week.
An attorney for Central Bank responded with this statement saying he bank has not "frozen all assets" of the business, but rather, Central Bank remains committed to continually provide payment and honor each check presented to the extent the funds are available.
Former employees of Heidi's are owed more than $24,000 dollars in back-pay and tips. Without any warning or clear reason, the restaurant abruptly shut its doors on Oct. 22. In a press release, Woodman along with his wife, Heidi, said they're in the process of a divorce and asked for privacy.
Angela Jelsma says she's fighting to get her pay, and is the first to lawyer up.
"In my opinion the money was used to keep the restaurant operating the last week or two of business," she said.
"Woodman knows he hasn't paid these employees and they can win that lawsuit, but collecting that amount that's owed, that's going to be the challenge," attorney Aaron Scott said.
Scott is representing Jelsma and says these former employees have legal options to get their money back, but also says this incident serves as cautionary tale for others in the restaurant industry.
"In this restaurant, tips were being held and not being paid on a nightly basis," Scott said. "That really has led to a lot of the money that has gone unpaid at this point and that's something that's probably not the best practice, for sure."
At one point, the Woodmans were on the verge of a dining empire and owned several critically acclaimed restaurants in the Twin Cities, but now, their reputations are being questioned. After years of experience, the future could still point to more restaurants for the Woodmans.
"I think they're going to try, knowing their ego, but I don't think with the reputation that they've gained, it'll be successful," one former employee said.
One way to recover the money could be to file a lawsuit against the Woodmans, likely revealing a paper trail in court, but no such lawsuit has been filed yet.