LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The management of Durangos tells us they are struggling to keep the restaurant open after they discovered an employee stole thousands of dollars.
After 16 years in Lubbock and establishing its first well-known location at 5004 Frankford Avenue, Durangos opened a new location at 411 University Avenue in December of 2017. About three months later, bill payments were not going through and checks began bouncing.
"A close family friend, someone who has been there way before me, was committing forgery, fraud and theft," Manager Sabina Astorga said.
The restaurant filed a fraud report with the Lubbock Police Department. It states that their night manager, who the family chose not to identify, wrote checks to himself and wrote checks to other employees without their knowledge to then sign them over to himself. The report says the manager took voided checks, tampered with them and took pictures to deposit them into a personal account.
Adriel Astorga co-owns Durangos with his father, Gaudencio Astorga, who immigrated from Durango, Mexico. Adriel couldn't believe that around $15,000 had been stolen.
"I don't understand why he did it," Adriel said. "If he needed money, he could have asked my dad to borrow some money. My dad would have said yes, instead of going behind their back and taking so much money and putting us in such a deep hole and debt with the vendors. We can't pay our employees. We haven't gotten paid in maybe a month. It's been difficult."
"It was a chain reaction," Sabina said. "It affected the employees. There were days where they couldn't get paid because we had to keep the restaurant running. For my father-in-law, he can't pay his car payment. We haven't been able to make car payments. It's been rough. We've been living off our wedding money. We were supposed to get married in August. We can't pay ourselves either."
The Astorgas say some loyal employees have stuck with them while others have quit. Landlords have helped by establishing payment plans, but are also anxious to get their rent.
"The restaurant has been my dad's whole life," Adriel said. "That's what he has done his whole life is cooked. If we lose the restaurant, that's like losing a family member. It's serious. I know it hurts him but he doesn't show it. He keeps on trying to go forward."
The family wants this situation to be a lesson to others as they seek justice for what has happened.
"That was a mistake on our part," Sabina said. "We got too comfortable. I wouldn't get too comfortable with anyone. You'd be surprised who can hurt you. It's an awful feeling."
As loyal customers continue to support the restaurant, the family hopes others will join them for a meal.
"Just come over here and eat," Adriel said. "That will help us out, people coming to our locations. I think that will help us out a lot."
Click here for more information about Durangos.
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