After barely two years of returning to China, Hard Rock Cafe has closed its Shanghai and Hangzhou branches, leaving both employees and suppliers unpaid.
The closure is an about-turn after the chain announced earlier this year that it was planning to open one restaurant a month until at least 30 outlets are running.
Both locations shut down last weekend after director of operations, John Lin, met with managers in Shanghai on July 28 and told them not to come to work anymore, said multiple employees.
Staff have not been paid for a month, but Lin claimed the company would pay all salaries and compensation fees on August 10.
Lin was unable to be reached for comment.
According to employees, Alex George, CEO of Malaysian-led parent company HRC World Plc, sent people to remove memorabilia from the Hangzhou branch on July 27, but was stopped after staff tipped off unpaid suppliers, who showed up the restaurant.
One supplier, who confirmed the incident, said he was owed over ¥40,000 and has not been paid in three months.
George was reached on his Malaysian telephone number but hung up soon after Hard Rock Cafe was mentioned. His Chinese number has been disconnected.
The downturn belied HRC World Plc’s optimism in February this year, when they announced the company was “embarking on an aggressive expansion plan” to open one restaurant a month until they have 30 locations, and was “confident” of opening up to 38 Hard Rock Cafes across China.
The Hangzhou branch opened in October 2016, followed by Shanghai in January 2017. At the time of closure, a cafe Chengdu was scheduled to open in August.