Swadley’s BBQ says it is alarmed and dismayed that the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has canceled its contract that put the restaurants in state parks.
The chain says 300 people will lose their jobs as a result of that cancellation.
Around 300 Swadley’s Foggy Bottoms employees across the state are suddenly out of a job.
The contract was signed in March 2020 and was set to last five years. In other words, the contract was cut short three years early.
The whole goal of this was to have restaurants at state parks, and now they are all closed just before summer.
Oklahoma Tourism Director Jerry Winchester defended the Swadley's contract to a legislative oversight committee last month.
“Would it be better, if we’re going to lose money on it, that we lost it on good food and good service?” said Winchester.
The committee says the Tourism Department paid Swadley's nearly $17,000,000.
Lawmakers called the contract with Swadley's 'unusual' because it covered Swadley's losses.
It also included monthly management fees.
News 9 obtained invoices showing Swadley's charged 15% in additional fees on top of some expenses.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney called for a state audit and criminal investigation into allegations of fraud.
Swadley's leadership says the allegations are unfair.
A statement from the company says Swadley's hasn’t had a chance to defend itself.
Gov. Kevin Stitt says he supports the department’s decision.
In a statement, Gov. Stitt said,
"I support the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s actions today and will continue to always protect the taxpayers and shine a light on any corruption or bad actors in state government. From the first day I was elected governor, I directed every cabinet secretary and state agency in Oklahoma to become top ten and I expect that progress to continue.”
You can read Swadley's full statement about the contract cancelation here.
“Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen is alarmed and dismayed that the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, in a letter delivered by Executive Director Jerry Winchester, has today unilaterally terminated our contract and accused us of ‘fraudulent activity’ without offering any evidence to reinforce that accusation or a chance to defend ourselves. As a result of Tourism’s decision, we will be forced to eliminate the positions of close to 300 employees who have worked hard to make these new restaurants successful. We are heartbroken for these employees, and we will continue to defend the quality of our work against these unfair attacks on our business.”