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Dominick’s Employee Posts Critical YouTube Video, Gets Suspended On Store’s Last Day

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A screen grab from Steve Yamamoto's video, "Thanks Safeway." (Steve Yamamoto)

A screen grab from Steve Yamamoto’s video, “Thanks Safeway.” (Steve Yamamoto)

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(CBS) – It is perhaps the “Citizen Kane” of supermarket-destruction movies — and it cost one Dominick’s employee what was left of his job.

Steve Yamamoto, a longtime employee of the Glen Ellyn Dominick’s store that was shuttered on Saturday, posted a YouTube video the day before. The two-minute, over-the-top film shows his fellow employees in the empty supermarket meeting their ends from a falling utility pole, a tornado, a crashing helicopter, robots and even a fire-breathing dragon. There are lot of cartoonish explosions, courtesy of a digital special-effects app.

The apocalyptic video is sarcastically titled “Thanks Safeway,” a jab at Dominick’s parent company Safeway Inc., which pulled out of the Chicago market, leaving 6,000 jobless. But Yamamoto says he didn’t make the short in anger.

“It was all in good fun – just to raise morale,” he tells CBS 2.

The creative effort was not without a price. On Saturday, his manager told him he was suspended. True, the store was closing, anyway, but the move could prevent Yamamoto from getting about three weeks’ severance pay, he says. He says nobody else was disciplined and he takes responsibility for the video.

Safeway Inc. did not respond to CBS 2’s request for comment on Saturday.

The California-based company said it was shutting down the Dominick’s chain because of poor performance. At least 15 of 72 stores have been sold to competitors, but the fates of most sites remain unclear.

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