Employees of the Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek are complaining that donations that were supposed to go to them following a devastating fire at the restaurant are not being distributed properly.
Donations are being filtered through the local Foothills Foodbank, but the owner of Buffalo Chip Saloon is the person deciding who gets what amount.
“I think they're unfounded as far as why they did or didn't receive money from this community that was so generous,” owner Larry Wendt said.
After Wendt’s restaurant became the target of possible arson, the community rallied to raise money for workers.
“We put most almost all of the money out to most of the staff that we thought needed it the most-- single parents raising children on their own (and) people who were unable to find another job,” Wendt said. “We went above and beyond and now were being criticized for it.”
However, three women who said they are single mothers and were employees of the Buffalo Chip called ABC15 to report that they had not received any of the donation money. One of the woman said she barely made rent this month and had less than $5 in her bank account when she received a text message saying that only current employees will be receiving help from the fundraiser.
“Not true. Not true because some of these, I know for a fact, he has said they have jobs or have not found work,” Foothills Foodbank spokeswoman Pam Dipietro said.
Dipietro said the money was donated through her organization. She showed ABC15 documents which state that over $41,000 had been raised for the restaurant. Another $16,000 was donated after our interview.
Of the 34 checks handed out, at least four managers were given the highest amounts, ranging from $400 to $1,800 each.
“Is he favoring? Making sure they're getting their money first? Maybe so, but they are still physically working for him, too. So, I'm sure he's concerned,” Dipietro said.
As for the arson investigation, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said no arrests have been made.