Bitwise declared bankruptcy and is facing several lawsuits from former employees and investors.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The shutdown of Bitwise left hundreds without paychecks and looking for new opportunities, but a former employee is taking the unfortunate situation as a chance to pursue a long-held dream.
"I had been thinking about opening a gelateria, and my family and my heritage is Italian," said Jordan Sanchez, Gelateria Del Centro. "I had the opportunity to go to Italy and see where my family is from and during that experience, I really fell in love with both my culture, heritage, and gelato."
On Memorial Day, like hundreds of other Bitwise employees, Jordan Sanchez was furloughed. Two weeks later it was officially a mass layoff. Sanchez saw the opportunity for something sweet as the company she worked at for 7 years crumbled.
"This kind of gave me an opportunity to turn around what's going on in my life into something positive," said Sanchez.
She's not doing this alone. She's teaming up with other former employees, like business partner and interior designer Tami Waters, and her own brothers.
"My younger brother is going to come in and help us with square and our POS," said Sanchez. "My older brother is helping us with our insurance portion. Then we have a muralist Robert Amador, who's also a former Bitwiser, and a marketing team coming on board to help us from former marketing employees on the Bitwise side."
An empty space in the Warnors Center is just a blank canvas for Sanchez and Waters to express their style.
"Tami and I our friendship really bonded over our love for vintage shopping," said Sanchez.
A blank canvas but with loyalty to the Warnors Theatre decor.
"So, these are original fixtures that came with the building when it opened and now we will be refurbishing them and bringing them back to life and beautifully displaying them in our in our shop," said Sanchez.
She's been documenting the process on Instagram.
Showing the steps necessary to open a shop from securing a space to paperwork and renovations in hopes it can be a guide for others looking to open their own business.
Sanchez said they've received overwhelming support from local agencies and other businesses and are hoping a Kickstarter campaign will help them open up shop.
Sanchez said they are working to hire former Bitwise employees and with the Fresno County Economic Development Department through its New Employment Opportunities (NEO) Program.
"Which helps bring people that are on a waiting list to find employment, job opportunities, and then in exchange, they help support small businesses and help pay for some of that salary for new employees as well," said Sanchez.
They're hoping for a soft launch during the August 3rd Art Hop and then work up to a full opening as they get more employees on board.
Meanwhile, her former employer Bitwise declared bankruptcy and is facing several lawsuits from former employees and investors. Action News also learned the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the company.