When the Florida City chain of stores opened in Tampa in 2009, it was hailed as a model for small, locally owned and operated businesses.
Florida City is now facing an array of challenges, but the chain’s future lies in Tampa, and in the eyes of some, that is where its future lies.
Florida City, a Florida-based chain of grocery stores and convenience stores, closed its doors last year after its owners were sued by the state for failing to pay workers and creditors more than $7 million in back wages and unpaid rent, according to Tampa Bay Times reports.
Florida city is now suing the state to collect $4.5 million in unpaid rent owed by the store and other tenants, claiming it should be paid more than the $3.4 million it received from the state.
On Thursday, Florida City issued a statement on its Facebook page, saying it was taking the legal action to protect the “vital” economic interests of its Tampa-area franchisees and its employees.
“As we have said many times, the Florida city store, Florida city, is a key part of the Tampa community, which includes our local businesses and our residents.
As the Tampa City Council voted to approve the relocation of the Florida chain, we had the opportunity to take action to secure the long-term financial health of the franchisee,” the statement said.
“We continue to work with our local partners and are confident that we can secure the financial health for our franchisees, our employees and our community that we know they deserve.”
The Florida City franchisees will continue to operate under the Florida franchise program, according the statement.
The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported that the Florida stores had already paid back more than half of the $7.7 million owed by Florida City.
It was not immediately clear why Florida City decided to take legal action.
Tampa Bay has been dealing with a rash of recent hurricanes and the death of a young woman during a recent storm there.
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