Things have gotten a bit ugly up at Tipple & Brine — or, what used to be Tipple & Brine — in the last couple of months. First, the restaurant suddenly shuttered for a not-so-planned ‘hiatus’ two days before Christmas, with owner Richard DiSisto claiming at the time that both Tipple and the upstairs Tunnel Bar be returning in February.
Of course we all now know that’s not the case, as newcomer The Sherman has taken over and plans to open up pretty imminently. That revelation led to a number of public Facebook complaints from former employees (others hit our tip line, too) claiming to have been stiffed on their final paychecks. And, frankly, it’s an allegation that DiSisto doesn’t refute.
In a phone call with DiSisto last night, he says: "I had every intention of reopening Tipple & Brine. For certain reasons, I could not keep the Tipple/Tunnel building, and so it just came to a point where I had exhausted every option to make that happen and I no longer could. Of course my staff was notified, in writing. I also met with my entire staff and spoke to them. It was a tough day, and for me it was difficult, having been in this business for many years."
DiSisto says that once it became clear he wouldn’t be able to hold onto the properties, he began the process of paying everyone out. Unfortunately that takes time he notes, with most of his company's available money tied up in escrow. In a letter purportedly sent to staffers, DiSisto says:
As far as I’m concerned, closing down businesses is just as much a part of doing business as opening them. It must be done with as much respect as possible and my true belief is that everyone involved should be look at as partners in all that we do and try to accomplish. Partners that stuck with you not only through the good time but were there through the times of struggle as well. Those partners are the vendors, merchants, my amazing employees and any other related companies and people that were there to give this company its best chance to be successful at every turn.
DiSisto goes on to say that everyone should be paid out in roughly 65 days, and that he’s "been supplying the new owners with a list of all of our employees and have let them know that you would all be great hires."
Whether or not those affected employees actually get paid out remains to be seen. For now, DSisto says his hands are tied as he moves forward with selling the businesses — and his other ventures, like the planned upcoming MacLeod Ale expansion that has been tentatively in the works with owners Jennifer and Alastair Boase.