It may have been the meanest closing letter ever written. A letter insulting an entire city's intelligence and culinary preferences. The image of this letter hit social media Thursday night and exploded nationally online the next day. But some are calling the letter a fake and citing disgruntled employees as the source.
Enter former line cooks Jordan Wimberly and Zach Heiskell.
"We don't have any malice toward Mark." Heiskell said "We haven't had any issues with him, in fact I have been working there for almost the entire time the restaurant was open. And most importantly we were not fired."
Wimberly and Heiskell wanted to avoid the entire situation but feel that their names have been dragged into it the ordeal and want to "clear the air".
"It was a joke gone wrong," Wimberly said. "And now the situation has gotten out of hand."
Heiskell says that the author of the letter was Sava! Italiano Co-Owner and Chef Mark Coffman. He says that Coffman wrote the letter and sent it to him days after they were told they no longer had a job.
Sava! Italiano abruptly closed, leaving several employees without a job. Building owner Gene Storrs said that Sava! Italiano was at least a couple months behind on rent and they were forced to change the locks due to non-payment.
Heiskell says that the letter matches comments that Coffman often made about Amarillo.
"His (Mark Coffman) whole tenure of Sava! was about the town not getting what we were doing. Constantly saying they don't know real good food in the town. It matches up perfectly with what he has said throughout the tenure of Sava! Italiano."
Wimberly and Heiskell claim that after they received the photo of the letter via text message from Coffman, they asked Coffman if the letter was still on the door. Even though Coffman said in a text message he had taken it down, Wimberly and Heiskell went back to the restaurant to make sure and "cover it up" if it was still on the door.
After the image of the letter surfaced on social media a full three weeks after the initial text message, Wimberly and Heiskell tried to stay out of situation. It wasn't until they felt Coffman had basically identified them as the people responsible for posting the letter that they decided to come forward.
"He did everything short of naming us specifically," Wimberly said.
For now, they worry about their future employment opportunities and their families. A major factor in their decision to come forward with what they say is the truth.
"Amarillo is a rather small town, " Wimberly and Heiskell said. Wimberly continued and added, "It's upsetting because as I go to try to find other employment if I were to put on a reference that I worked at Sava or if anybody knows me from the past, it is going to be difficult to find any kind of work, being a cook is all I've known."
Efforts to reach Coffman today for further comment were unsuccessful. Coffman issued this statement on Friday regarding the entire situation.
"This was done maliciously. We would NEVER post such a thing on our business whether we were closing, moving or for ANY reason. Amarillo has been great to us and we are actually a little sad about moving. But business is business. Many people saw our authentic closing sign and we were super professional and thanked Amarillo very much."
For the time being Wimberly and Heiskell hope that Coffman will come clean. Both Wimberly and Heiskell say that Co-Owner Janet Bracher most likely had nothing to do with the letter or image and say she is probably very torn up about the incident.
"She is the sweetest woman. She wouldn't be a part of something like this," Wimberly and Heiskell said.
And as for claims that the image was "photoshopped" or altered, they say that is most definitely not the case.
"The letter is real, the photo is real. No one changed or altered that image in anyway," Wimberly said. "I would just really like if Mark coffman were to just come clean and say it was a joke gone wrong. I would just like it to be settled by the truth coming out."