Shanghai's Yao Restaurant, which gets its fame from people believing it is connected with Chinese NBA star Yao Ming, closed last Friday, leaving dozens of unpaid, stunned employees standing around outside.
The restaurant is behind in its obligations nearly 100,000 yuan ($15,000), local media reported.
Some 17 employees of the restaurant have applied for arbitration, said a deputy chief of Jing'an District Labor and Social Security Bureau surnamed Ge. He would not give the exact amount of money involved.
The restaurant opened in 2006 as a flagship restaurant called Yeeha Texas BBQ & Sports Bar and Yao Restaurant in Chinese.
The business was initiated by Yu Di. Yu and Yao are both shareholders of Yao Restaurant and Bar in Houston, Texas.
Yao Ming and his agent denied they get any profit from the Shanghai restaurant.
"Yao Ming and his family members didn't get a penny from the restaurant and didn't get involved in the operation," Zhang Mingji, who is in charge of Yao's management team, was quoted by National Business Daily as saying.