The popular Blue C Sushi abruptly closed all seven branches including five in the Seattle area due to financial problems, according to a memo the company emailed to employees Sunday night after dinner service.

Financial records filed with the King County Superior Court and the state Department of Revenue indicated Madison Holdings Inc., Blue C Sushi’s parent company, had a history of falling behind on its taxes, owing $194,957 as recently as 2016.

Several employees came to work their lunch shift Monday only to find the doors locked. In an email, Blue C Sushi told employees to come to designated Starbucks to pick up their final paychecks later this week. In an internal memo obtained by The Seattle Times, management advised employees to “deposit it promptly.”

The local restaurant chain helped popularize the conveyor-belt sushi concept around Seattle, where plates of Spider Rolls and other sushi rotate past dining tables on a conveyor belt, allowing customers to pick and choose.

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Eater was the first to report the closure and layoffs.

The closure surprised many employees who didn’t know Sunday would be their last shift. Alanis McFly, a busser at the Blue C Sushi in Westfield Southcenter mall, came to work Monday and found “the chairs were upturned on the tables, and customers tried the door and it was locked … That’s what blew my mind. Everything was fine,” during dinner service on Sunday.

The Seattle sushi chain runs five branches in the Seattle area and two in Southern California. In addition to Southcenter, it had outlets in downtown Seattle, University Village, Alderwood mall in Lynnwood and at Bellevue Square. It is not known how many people the chain employed. Management at Blue C Sushi could not be reached for comment.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

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