SCARBOROUGH, Maine — After several idle months, a former butcher shop is coming back to life on Payne Road.
But Zach Rockett, Ray Morse and Chad Parent, all former employees of The Meat House, say their new venture, Great East Butcher Co., is in no way connected to their previous employer.
Jason Parent and Justin Rosberg, founders of The Meat House, abruptly closed all of their Maine and New Hampshire stores last winter.
Rockett, Morse and Parent say The Meat House still owes them thousands of dollars.
“We 100 percent have absolutely nothing to do with The Meat House,” Morse, of Exeter, New Hampshire, said in a recent interview. “Believe me, we get that question daily.”
Great East is hoping for a mid-August opening for its second store, at 450 Payne Road. The first opened in early July in Stratham, New Hampshire. Both are former locations of The Meat House, a choice Parent — who is not related to Jason Parent — said was made based on relationships they already had with landlords.
The Great East partners also chose to open their new shops in Stratham and Scarborough, Parent said, because the locations were established and successful.
“It wasn’t the product or location that was the problem,” he said.
In January, four investors sued Jason Parent and Rosberg in U.S. District Court in Concord, New Hampshire, after Rosberg and Parent allegedly failed to make promised payments to investors over the course of several years, according to the suit.
The investors sought $350,000, plus 20 percent interest and court costs.
The New Hampshire Union Leader also reported that The Meat House failed to cooperate with lease payments for its Stratham store, resulting in another lawsuit filed Feb. 20.
The newspaper said the various claims totalled $2 million.
The Meat House first opened in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 2003. The Scarborough store opened in 2008, shortly before a store closed in the Mill Creek Shopping Center in South Portland.
Despite the New Hampshire headquarters dissolving, franchisees of the company continue in business, according to The Meat House website, in New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
Many employees of The Meat House’s New Hampshire and Maine locations never received pay from the weeks prior to closing, and were left abruptly unemployed.
Those employees included Morse, Chad Parent and Rockett, who said they are each still owed between $3,000 and $6,000 and are doubtful they will ever be paid.
But the three butchers hope their new venture can make customers forget about their previous employer, while providing a similar butcher service.
Great East will be a full-service specialty butcher shop, serving local meats whenever possible, and prepared meals. It will also carry produce, wine and beer, and have a sandwich station and salad bar, with a small seating area.
“It’s a good place to shop with good staff and as much local products as possible,” said Rockett, who used to work at The Meat House in Scarborough. “It should be awesome.”