A Chelsea restaurant has closed its doors Christmas Eve and the federally mandated Affordable Care Act (ACA) is getting part of the blame.
Some customers continued to stop by Monday but were surprised by a note on the door it was closed.
"Very disappointed. I'm a loyal customer here. Live in the community all of my life. Very disappointed they closed," Ray Franklin said.
Weslyon Adamson is a trucker who travels the Southeast. The KFC restaurant was a regular stop for him.
"Being in that truck it's hard to get into the place. This is convenient to pull right in here. It's easy," Adamson said.
Mike Taunton opened the restaurant back in 2000. Monday he and some of his 15 employees were cleaning up the building getting it ready for lease or sale. Taunton owns three other franchises in Clanton, Sylacauga and Childersburg but the Chelsea location was special since it was his hometown.
"It's a tough decision. First stand alone restaurant in Chelsea. It was a tough decision to make," Taunton said.
Taunton blames the Affordable Care Act. Taunton said it's his interpretation that under the act he could be forced to provide healthcare cost for some of the employees at the restaurant. The estimated cost could be $70,000.
"The days we are in right now. It would have been a hit too big for our company to make. So in dollars and cents this is a decision we had to make was to close the restaurant and shrink our company," Taunton said.
The ACA calls for employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer healthcare. The cost is $2,000 per employee if health insurance is not offered. Taunton said all of his employees at all of his businesses are lumped into one corporation.
Taunton said losing his regular customers was hard but informing his employees was the hardest part of the decision.
"Telling employees definitely. We have great employees and to tell them they no long have a job was the toughest thing," Taunton said.
Taunton said he plans to offer some of the workers jobs at his other restaurants there is also the possibility he may open another business at the same location.
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