ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Three Hostess outlets in San Diego County closed their doors Monday, but the company that makes Wonder Bread and Twinkies snacks agreed to a mediation session that could make the closings temporary.
For decades, cost-conscious customers frequented the stores in Chula Vista, El Cajon and Escondido to stock up on fresh bread and other baked goods at a fraction of the regular price.
Store shelves at the Escondido location were practically empty before the noon closure.
Kitty Smith told a local TV station that she used to buy around 20 loaves of bread at a time at the outlet.
"I feel like I'm losing a lot of good friends, because these girls were so cheerful," Smith said of the store employees. About 18,000 workers for the 82-year-old company stand to lose their jobs nationwide.
According to published reports, Hostess Brands Inc. agreed to private mediation with its lenders and leaders of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, whose baker members went on strike against the food maker.
Both the U.S. Trustee, part of the Justice Department, and unions have objected to the firm's liquidation plans.
The company announced last week that it would shut down, and claimed the strike forced the decision.