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Joplin sports bar that closed for vacation has reopened - KOAM TV 7

Joplin sports bar that closed for vacation has reopened

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A Joplin sports bar has reopened after its owner took some time off to figure out how to pay his employees.

Sportsman's Park reopened at 4 p.m. on Thursday, but many workers say they weren't aware of this reopening.  So they came to work at noon, wanting some answers and accountability.

The sign on the sports bar's front door read "We're on vacation!  See you in July or on the river!  If it's too wet at the river, see you Thursday at 4 p.m."

"I didn't really understand it, they didn't really give anyone any notice," says worker Brandon Owens.  "We had been going through a problem with none of our paychecks cashing for the past three weeks, trying to get sufficient funds for those."

"We closed on Sunday with the intention to stay closed for about a month and then try to figure out if we could try to reboot it somehow," says owner Dan Whitworth.

Whitworth says he didn't know what he was getting into when the former owner died in December.

"Any time you inherit something, you take it as it is," says Whitworth.  "Joplin, as far as a bar scene, is a football and to a certain extent a basketball area, and that's it.  There isn't anything else.  The summer is dead."

Whitworth says he's been using some of his own money to cover some of his 20 workers' paychecks, but he says he recently miscalculated these losses and while he was away on vacation workers were without pay.

He says he had communicated with the sports bar's manager but those issues weren't brought up, and he doesn't know why.

Whitworth says he's since covered those paychecks from his own pocket and he's ready to reopen.

"I don't understand, if you weren't making enough money to maintain an operable business, why you're going to close for a week and then miraculously reopen a week later and everything is ok?" says Owens.

"Maybe what it is, is we're trying to be open too much, trying to do too many things," says Whitworth.

Whitworth says his business will be open less with fewer worker shifts.

The sports bar's owner says no workers have been fired.

There's no word on how long Whitworth will try his new business method before deciding on another action plan.

Sportsman's Park confirmed late Thursday afternoon that the sports bar had reopened.

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