WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The west Wichita Jose Pepper’s location at 21st and Tyler shut down this week, and now former employees said the news came without notice. 

Bartender, server and Manager Teagen Guerrero said she went to work Wednesday expecting a normal day. Instead, her regional manager handed her a check and told her to leave. 

“I was just shocked that…how could a company do that to people just with no notice whatsoever,” Guerrero said. “I mean, we have children to feed. We’ve got bills to pay.”

Guerrero said no employees, including local managers, knew about the closure. Treasure Johnson, another former employee, said “they just kind of cut us off cold turkey.”

“There was some kind of talk about…they were either going to remodel or they were going to shut the store down, but they had just done like a couple months ago, minimal remodeling,” Johnson said. 

Jody Sight, director of human resources for Jose Pepper’s told KAKE News the company, which hosts its corporate headquarters in Overland Park, decided to close the location because sales were not picking up enough after the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the first restaurant it's ever closed. 

“I have utmost respect for our employees and unfortunately it was just a business decision,” Sight said. “I wish it could have been done differently.” 

Sight said all employees were offered the opportunity to work at the Jose Pepper’s location in east Wichita, which is still open. However, Johnson and Guerrero both said they are making other plans. 

“I have been applying at jobs like crazy,” Guerrero said. “Thankfully, all the people in Wichita have been offering me jobs, and I'm very thankful for my Wichitans for that.”

Several restaurant owners in Wichita, including one who oversees Homegrown, Carlos O’Kelly’s and Applebees, reached out to Jose Pepper’s encouraging the company to send its former employees their way. 

“Now everybody sees how they treat their people, so I don't think they'll want to keep…continue to support a business like that,” Johnson said.