The Canton Dockside restaurant off Boston Street, a mainstay of the growing retail development in the shadow of the CareFirst Tower, has closed its doors after 12 years amid financial struggles and lawsuits by former employees.
"We closed officially [Monday]," said former Canton Dockside general manager Eric Hamilton, the son of restaurant owner Earl Hamilton. "Financially, we were struggling. The well ran dry, so to speak."
Hamilton declined to comment on the federal lawsuits filed this year by several former employees. Earl Hamilton did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The seafood restaurant at South Clinton and Boston streets, near the Canton Crossing shopping center that includes a Target and a Harris Teeter, employed about 35 people, Eric Hamilton said. He said closing day was difficult.
"It's sad," he said. "It's not fun. It's a big family restaurant. It's been tough."
Hamilton did not provide additional details about the restaurant's financial situation.
The restaurant was promoting the sale of $100 gift certificates as recently as Christmas Eve — two days before it closed.
Several former employees have sued the restaurant over wages.
Kristofer L. Prusin, who worked at the restaurant as a cook, busser and server for three years, filed a lawsuit in March alleging that the restaurant failed to pay him the minimum wage and overtime.
Christine Jackson, who worked at the restaurant six years, and Megan Blankenship, who worked there four years, filed a collective action and class action complaint against the restaurant last month over wages.
They say they were not paid a minimum wage and did not receive overtime when they worked more than 40 hours a week.
Both suits name the restaurant and Eric Hamilton as defendants.
Blankenship has since withdrawn her complaint, said attorney Howard B. Hoffman, who is representing the two other plaintiffs.
Hoffman said Eric Hamilton was deposed Friday, but gave no indication that the business would close.
Hoffman recently won a similar suit brought by seven employees at the Speakeasy Saloon & Dining House in Canton Square. That restaurant has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
He is representing tipped employees at other restaurants in the region in lawsuits alleging failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.
"What we see is that restaurants, either knowingly or unknowingly, are perhaps so concentrated on other issues, they are not paying close enough attention in the way to pay wages in the front and the back of the house," Hoffman said.
An attorney listed for Canton Dockside in the wage lawsuits did not return a call for comment Tuesday morning.