By Christophe Jacquet
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In 2018, Ian Mahinmi had “jumped at the chance”. The former professional basketball player, then pivot of the Washington Wizards in the United States, after having been NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks, dreamed of being the perfect “businessman” in his Normandy native. He had not missed the opportunity to buy back and relaunch the restaurant at Mondeville (Calvados) from the American fast food franchise Steak’n’Shakerecently established in France.
Suppliers not paid
Four years later, the adventure is cut short. The establishment is deserted. Its 22 employees remain in limbo, unemployed and almost without pay, according to them, for three months. On April 14, 2022, its director for a year had to close its doorsacross from Buffalo Grill and KFC, near the mall Mondeville 2. According to Patrick Godard, “it had been three weeks since we could be delivered meat, fruit and vegetables due to unpaid bills, the suppliers said stop”.
All the more a problem when the restaurant chain Steak’n’Shake claims to serve burgers and milkshakes on demand, with fresh products, meats 100% of French origin, and “fries grown in France, then cut by hand, blanched and cooked in the kitchens”.
Patrick Godard continues: “I had to go to Metro [le grossiste pour la restauration] on my day off, with my personal car. It was no longer possible. “The latest episode in a series of dysfunctions, since Ian Mahinmi, the investor, entrusted the management of the restaurant in Mondeville to his sister Julie Mahinmi, and two others, in Grand-Quevilly near Rouen (Seine-Maritime ) and in Brétigny-sur-Orge (Essonne) – the latter has since been placed in compulsory liquidation. A manager, who resigned in April, after staying only 5 months in Mondeville, summarizes them:
Between bills that have been unpaid for years, outdated, broken or simply non-existent equipment, false promises and very late payment from employees, it is even surprising that the restaurant has remained open for so long.
The Mondeville restaurant has held up with its visibly close-knit team of around twenty people. “With our means, we made more turnover than the restaurant in Rouen”, assures Patrick Godard.
Today, they do not want to “let go of anything”, considering themselves “despised” by the majority shareholders. A few weeks after returning the keys to them, they are no longer content to wait for the wages to fall at irregular intervals. Which puts them, for the most part, in an “alarming” financial situation, according to Hugo Fleury, the restaurant’s historic manager, there before it was taken over by Julie and Ian Mahinmi. He deplores “the few contacts”, and still “very brief”, with them. “Our emails and text messages are almost unanswered. They already abandoned us when we had problems with suppliers. »
“Not as present as I would have liked”
A situation that only Ian Mahinmi evokes half-wordly, in a press release sent this Friday, July 29. Contacted several times, via email and message on her answering machine, her sister Julie did not answer our questions. The former basketball player converted into business, also a consultant for the BeIN Sports channel, recognizes this:
What my institution lacked the most was my involvement. If I committed body and soul to this adventure, I must admit with hindsight that living in the United States and still having activities there did not allow me to be as present as I would have liked, that the entrepreneurial activity imposed it.
He clarifies it again: “When I started this project, I was a young top-level athlete. To put all my chances on my side, I invested significant sums and I devoted time to create employment. However, that was not enough. I am the first to be saddened. We failed. I failed. »
According to him, the Mondeville restaurant suffered several failures:
- the establishment would have “suffered enormously, like the vast majority of the catering world, due to the pandemic that we have had to go through for the past two years”;
- he also deplores it, “I lacked support from the franchisor. Especially in operational and financial”;
- personnel management was complicated:
Unfortunately, I never knew how to find the right formula to retain my group of supervisors, and to regenerate a group that had many young employees with a high turnover.
Economic redundancy in progress?
Ian Mahinmi confirms it, he and his sister made the trip to Mondeville on June 9th. Already, to take back the keys to the restaurant, and tell its employees that it would not reopen. And to “adopt after a vote the economic redundancy”.
Since then, the team has had no news. On the advice of the labor inspectorate, she asked the public prosecutor and the commercial court to speed up the procedure, and obtain the balances of all accounts, the “Pôle Emploi certificate”, or even the reimbursement of undue deductions for the mutual while the contract would have been terminated for two years. On July 27, when they contacted the press to testify to their impasse, their June salaries were paid to them.
In his press release, Ian Mahinmi affirms: “There will be no social plan because I continue to bear the burden of all salaries personally. With regard to dismissals, “rather heavy measures have been implemented with our legal representative and the authorities concerned”.
Julie Mahinmi told our colleagues from Ouest-France that the procedure would be concluded “at the end of August”. For its part, the administrative court has not yet received the request for economic dismissal for the employees of Mondeville, still in the dark before “being able to move on”.
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