The owner of Cougar Country Drive-In says the restaurant will be open today, is not closing and employees will be paid after financial troubles caused rumors the popular business would close.
After multiple news outlets on Friday reported restaurant management stating the future of the Pullman landmark was uncertain, a post on Cougar Country’s Facebook page, apparently from the owner, Rhonda Witt-Miller, attempted to put those concerns at ease.
“I take full responsibility for the ugly rumor that we were closing,” the post says. “I believed I had a honest and mature crew that took responsibility serious. I have hired a thief ... will be taking care of that situation and will return to work after retirement of 5 years (I worked behind the counter for 40 years).”
The post said the restaurant missed a delivery Friday morning due to not enough cash being on hand, but a beef delivery was scheduled for this morning.
Witt-Miller also disputed the idea of the business closing in posts on her personal Facebook profile.
The restaurant was closed late Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
When the Daily News messaged Witt-Miller on Facebook, a reply said she is planning on the restaurant being open today.
Throughout the weekend, people claiming to be employees took to Twitter and Facebook with claims their paychecks have bounced and they no longer work at the restaurant or will be leaving.
The restaurant’s general manager, Richard Marshall, who was quoted Friday by the Daily Evergreen as stating the business’ future was uncertain, declined to comment.
One employee, James Shively, told the Daily News many employees did not come to work on Saturday because they were not guaranteed they would be paid. He, too, saw his last paycheck bounce. It was Shively’s second consecutive bounced check from the business.
In her reply to the Daily News, Witt-Miller confirmed that paychecks have bounced, and management was forced to pay them in cash. Witt-Miller wrote she will see to it that all employees get paid.
“My priority has always been my employees and I will take care of them,” she wrote.
As for the alleged thief she mentioned, Witt-Miller said she “will be watching recordings” of the business, and plans to prosecute.
Cougar Country has been a beloved food destination in Pullman since 1973 and the threat of its closure caused many on social media to express their concerns.
According to a story from the Spokesman-Review, Witt-Miller took the business over in 2008 when her father, Cougar Country founder Ray Stephens, died at the age 78.
Witt-Miller said she has been getting support from the public and loyal customers, and she plans to come out of retirement to work at Cougar Country again.
“I will be back at work and will do my best to regain the confidence of my crew and customers,” she wrote.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.