Four Hamilton fast-food workers were left traumatised when armed robbers surprised them at closing time, forcing them to hand over cash from the till.
None of the Burger King restaurant staff were injured but the workers, including a young supervisor, were yesterday offered counselling.
Hamilton police are appealing for witnesses after a worker was confronted by two men at the back of Burger King in Chartwell about 11pm on Wednesday.
Detective Sergeant Daryl Smith said the worker, taking rubbish out, was jumped by two men wearing dark clothes and scarves or balaclavas over their faces.
They forced him back inside where two colleagues and the supervisor, who had been in a back room, realised the offenders had a gun.
"The victims have complied with the robbers' demands and the pair fled the store on foot with a large sum of cash," Mr Smith said.
Officers cordoned off surrounding streets and a police dog tried to track the offenders but lost the scent.
Mr Smith said the robbers might have parked somewhere nearby to aid their escape.
The restaurant was closed yesterday morning for a scene examination. Police will also study CCTV footage from security cameras in the area.
"Police would like to speak to anyone who noticed any suspicious behaviour around the Burger King, Lynden Court or Westfield Chartwell shopping centre areas between 11pm and 11.45pm," Mr Smith said.
Burger King spokeswoman Rachael Allison said it was a "scary incident" for the team. "Our main priority at the moment is the health and wellbeing of our staff."
She said Burger King could not disclose how much money was taken but it was not a large amount. Regular security pick-ups ensured the restaurant did not hold lots of cash.
"This is the first incident of its kind for the restaurant. We have strong security protocols in place to prevent incidents like this occurring and will be working with staff nationally to reinforce the correct procedures to follow."
Ms Allison said the restaurant would reopen when police had finished their investigation and Burger King was satisfied staff were ready to go back on site.