(CBS) – The top executive for a restaurant chain that abruptly fired nearly 20 of its Chicago workers right before the holidays – by email – has apologized for the “insensitive and poorly planned” way it was handled.

The workers at Snarf’s sub shop, 600 W. Chicago Ave., were notified electronically over the weekend that the restaurant was closing Monday so that it could be renovated and changed into something new. That left 18 employees without jobs, right before Christmas.

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In a written statement released Wednesday, Snarf’s owner and CEO Jim Seidel says the Colorado-based company will offer the former workers a week’s wages. He said poor business at the River North sandwich shop prompted the company to close the location and “reconcept” it.

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“It was insensitive and poorly planned,” Seidel said of the firings. “We recognize now we acted rashly. For this, we apologize to our employees and to our loyal customers who we know we’ve disappointed.”

Company officials have denied there is any connection between the store closing and a recent one-day demonstration in which workers demanded higher wages.

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The company says the former employees can apply for jobs at the new restaurant when it opens next year. One employee is skeptical anyone would be rehired.