Author Topic: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...  (Read 2315 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey all,

You may have remembered some old posts where I had asked for advice about my in-laws' restaurant and them selling it. This was all back in early 2019 and the new owner has been in charge since (and has really run the place down per many Yelp reviews). Anyway, my wife pretty much grew up as "supplemental help" at her parents' restaurant her whole life, and supported them in various ways: manning the front, taking orders on the phone and placing them through the archaic ordering system, updating menu prices and tax rates in the system, etc.

Well, the current owner of the restaurant reached out to my wife a few days ago asking for some follow-up on some escrow documents (not my wife's or my in-laws' problem) that she needed for tax filing but in the same conversation requested information about how to update menu pricing (not my wife's or my in-laws' problem - she's still using the archaic system and could have decided to replace it). My wife gave her that info and she just responded again now asking how to update the tax rate. The knowledge is somewhat 'siloed' in that pretty much my wife is the only one knows how to do it. My wife is insisting that she just go in and take care of it as it will only take 10-15 minutes.... could be the case but we all know how those things go. BTW: from her parents house it's a 20 minute drive each way, so there's that...

What do you guys think? Should she just do this as a "one time courtesy" and if the owner asks for more favors, tell her that she'll need to bill her for her time? My wife thinks this is a "necessary" thing to do out of obligation because they sold the restaurant to the new owner - I told her that all this is the new owner's problem and she very well had the ability to move off of this system and onto another but chose not to. Per the contract, I think she was extended anywhere from 1-3 months of 'support' to help with the transition - it was during this time that she should have figured all this stuff out.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2021, 10:28:57 PM by jeromedawg »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2021, 10:39:33 PM »
They are taking advantage of your wife. 3-6 months is insanely generous. You are over 2 YEARS out.

Tell them no. Nicely, as it seems your wife feels weirdly beholden to them and likely wouldn't like the idea of "HELL NO, crazy person! Manage your own business or pay me $500/hour for my time!"

So nicely: she doesn't remember or has no clue, sorry!

No, she/her parents have no idea about the documents. No she hasn't done any software/updating on this in several years, so she doesn't remember how to do this any more.


Hi Incompetent business owner,

As this has been exclusively your business for over 2 years, I don't know about the escrow or tax information, and I'm not sure at this point I would even remember exactly how to do any of the things you're asking about so I do not feel comfortable with any further involvement at this time regarding your business. I suggest you contact your real estate agent for help with your documents and update your whatever-it-software-systems so you can either do this task in house, or hire an restaurant software business/tax professional to manage things like that for you so you are in complete control. Good luck with everything!



« Last Edit: April 21, 2021, 10:44:09 PM by Frankies Girl »

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2021, 10:56:46 PM »
They are taking advantage of your wife. 3-6 months is insanely generous. You are over 2 YEARS out.

Tell them no. Nicely, as it seems your wife feels weirdly beholden to them and likely wouldn't like the idea of "HELL NO, crazy person! Manage your own business or pay me $500/hour for my time!"

So nicely: she doesn't remember or has no clue, sorry!

No, she/her parents have no idea about the documents. No she hasn't done any software/updating on this in several years, so she doesn't remember how to do this any more.


Hi Incompetent business owner,

As this has been exclusively your business for over 2 years, I don't know about the escrow or tax information, and I'm not sure at this point I would even remember exactly how to do any of the things you're asking about so I do not feel comfortable with any further involvement at this time regarding your business. I suggest you contact your real estate agent for help with your documents and update your whatever-it-software-systems so you can either do this task in house, or hire an restaurant software business/tax professional to manage things like that for you so you are in complete control. Good luck with everything!


My wife is too nice haha - she already helped with the escrow info and then gave her the info on updating the menu prices. I told her to respond to the new owner at this point and tell her "Sorry, I don't know how to change the taxes" - if the owner insists on having her change it then I told her to discuss her billable rate. $500/hr seems high but now that we're discussing it, maybe she should give her that rate, discounted from $900/hr lol

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2021, 04:25:43 AM »
Two years out is ridiculous to be expecting free help.  Legacy software is tough though, and probably the only real options are to get your wife to help, or to buy new software.  I can't imagine a restaurant is swimming in cash right now to install new software.  I would have your wife offer to help at whatever hourly rate you two agree on, plus some sort of trip fee (covering time/gas to get there).  And probably a minimum - 1 hour of time charged per call even if it only takes 5 minutes.  This way she can still feel like she is helping where needed, but won't be taken advantage of.

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2021, 07:15:06 AM »
We would not agree to help for free. If she isn't paid, they'll come knocking again. Charge market rate for any services she provides.

ender

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2021, 07:30:36 AM »
This isn't "skeleton in the closet" this is "someone taking advantage of a generous person."

Your phrasing in the title makes me think you feel obligated to do this. You aren't.


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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2021, 07:37:59 AM »
Your wife is letting these people take advantage of her.

ChickenStash

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2021, 08:48:50 AM »
If it were me, I'd probably do it but make sure they took notes on how it's done so they can DIY it in the future. From that point on I'd refer them to the software manufacturer for support. If there's no documentation or support, I'd probably write up a tip sheet with as much info as I could recall and leave it behind. Basically, set them up with what I can, but from that point I'd probably wash my hands of the whole situation.

As an IT person already, I really don't like doing support for outdated software - lived (well, living) that movie. They have to budget for new gear just like anything else in the business.


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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2021, 09:06:07 AM »
If it were me, I'd probably do it but make sure they took notes on how it's done so they can DIY it in the future. From that point on I'd refer them to the software manufacturer for support. If there's no documentation or support, I'd probably write up a tip sheet with as much info as I could recall and leave it behind. Basically, set them up with what I can, but from that point I'd probably wash my hands of the whole situation.

As an IT person already, I really don't like doing support for outdated software - lived (well, living) that movie. They have to budget for new gear just like anything else in the business.

Two years later, though?  If an employer from two years ago called me and wanted me to come in and work for them for free, they can go pound sand...

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2021, 09:15:22 AM »
She has already done the woman enough favors - 20 emails back and forth with the escrow agent *on behalf* of the new owner to get her documentation she needs so she can prove she paid off the loan my in-laws carried back. Not my wife's problem or my in-laws' problem that the escrow agent has dragged her feet for over half a year on that. Not their problem that the new owner doesn't know how to effectively communicate. And then the "oh btw, how do I change the menu prices on this old system?" - c'mon, if you're a new owner taking over isn't this one of the first things you'd figure out? And if you can't, why wouldn't you just update the system? I think this new owner wanted "turnkey" (even though everything about the restaurant my in-laws run was archaic and outdated when they sold it) and still wants "free support" for it. I wouldn't be surprised if she still bothers my father-in-law about things/asks for his help and he actually gives it (but he wouldn't say anything to my wife because he's the kind of person who allows people to take advantage of him).

Anyway, I was driving the point hard to my wife that it's not her problem that this new owner sucks. She became free of the 'binds' of the restaurant once it was sold. The new owner chose to buy it and now *she* owns it. My wife doesn't work for her. After enough of that, my wife slowly but reluctantly agreed and is planning to write back "Sorry, I don't know or recall how to do that" - if the new owner becomes insistent, then I told my wife to start up a conversation with her on providing services and billing for the time. The first "tech support" instance was a freebie but this is not. 3 hours total drive time + 15-20 mins of support time is all going to be billable. x1.5 for it being outside normal business hours. She can start her rates at $250/hour.  My wife said that it costs probably around $150 for the company who set the system up to come out and make these kinds of changes. Maybe she can bill $149.99 + drive time if she wants to be nice. LOL
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 09:17:45 AM by jeromedawg »

ChickenStash

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2021, 09:17:01 AM »
If it were me, I'd probably do it but make sure they took notes on how it's done so they can DIY it in the future. From that point on I'd refer them to the software manufacturer for support. If there's no documentation or support, I'd probably write up a tip sheet with as much info as I could recall and leave it behind. Basically, set them up with what I can, but from that point I'd probably wash my hands of the whole situation.

As an IT person already, I really don't like doing support for outdated software - lived (well, living) that movie. They have to budget for new gear just like anything else in the business.

Two years later, though?  If an employer from two years ago called me and wanted me to come in and work for them for free, they can go pound sand...

For a small business owner... yeah, I'd do it with the caveats I specified. I even answer email from my previous employers/coworkers about projects I worked or code I wrote long after I've left. For an employer, I won't actually do the work but I will share info and guidance as long as it doesn't take too much of my time.

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2021, 09:22:14 AM »
If it were me, I'd probably do it but make sure they took notes on how it's done so they can DIY it in the future. From that point on I'd refer them to the software manufacturer for support. If there's no documentation or support, I'd probably write up a tip sheet with as much info as I could recall and leave it behind. Basically, set them up with what I can, but from that point I'd probably wash my hands of the whole situation.

As an IT person already, I really don't like doing support for outdated software - lived (well, living) that movie. They have to budget for new gear just like anything else in the business.

Two years later, though?  If an employer from two years ago called me and wanted me to come in and work for them for free, they can go pound sand...

For a small business owner... yeah, I'd do it with the caveats I specified. I even answer email from my previous employers/coworkers about projects I worked or code I wrote long after I've left. For an employer, I won't actually do the work but I will share info and guidance as long as it doesn't take too much of my time.

I'm assuming you do this to maintain the business relationship, networking and connections right? I can very well see why one might do that, especially if it somehow creates or provisions opportunities for further business, etc.

In this case, I don't see any sort of good that could come out of it. The new owner took over their restaurant and is driving it into the ground. My FIL actually thinks this new owner is shady and she's "running the business" as a front for something else. We honestly have no idea how she has been able to keep afloat during the pandemic - 99% of the Yelp reviews are 1-2 star reviews since the change of hands. Recurring themes in the reviews: "the owner argued with me and yelled at me after I complained about the food. She wouldn't give me my money back either" and "my delivery arrived with the Styrofoam container of soup completely melted in the bag" - my wife just needs to sever all communications with this woman.

Either she's shady or she's that terrible of a business owner and the landlord is writing it all off. On a side note: I'm wondering if she's actually not paying rent or not paying rent in full per the current moratorium. Either way, I can't imagine the landlord being too happy about things either.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 09:24:12 AM by jeromedawg »

FINate

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2021, 09:37:14 AM »
She has already done the woman enough favors - 20 emails back and forth with the escrow agent *on behalf* of the new owner to get her documentation she needs so she can prove she paid off the loan my in-laws carried back. Not my wife's problem or my in-laws' problem that the escrow agent has dragged her feet for over half a year on that. Not their problem that the new owner doesn't know how to effectively communicate. And then the "oh btw, how do I change the menu prices on this old system?" - c'mon, if you're a new owner taking over isn't this one of the first things you'd figure out? And if you can't, why wouldn't you just update the system? I think this new owner wanted "turnkey" (even though everything about the restaurant my in-laws run was archaic and outdated when they sold it) and still wants "free support" for it. I wouldn't be surprised if she still bothers my father-in-law about things/asks for his help and he actually gives it (but he wouldn't say anything to my wife because he's the kind of person who allows people to take advantage of him).

Anyway, I was driving the point hard to my wife that it's not her problem that this new owner sucks. She became free of the 'binds' of the restaurant once it was sold. The new owner chose to buy it and now *she* owns it. My wife doesn't work for her. After enough of that, my wife slowly but reluctantly agreed and is planning to write back "Sorry, I don't know or recall how to do that" - if the new owner becomes insistent, then I told my wife to start up a conversation with her on providing services and billing for the time. The first "tech support" instance was a freebie but this is not. 3 hours total drive time + 15-20 mins of support time is all going to be billable. x1.5 for it being outside normal business hours. She can start her rates at $250/hour.  My wife said that it costs probably around $150 for the company who set the system up to come out and make these kinds of changes. Maybe she can bill $149.99 + drive time if she wants to be nice. LOL

If your wife really wants a side-hustle consulting gig then, sure, go nuts. If she's charging $ I believe this creates the potential for liability if something goes wrong. At least that's my understanding, but I'm not an attorney. So I would consider some type of incorporation, especially since this new owner sounds particularly incompetent. This will also complicate your taxes, and the new owners will need to file a 1099 if the billed amount per calendar year exceeds $600.

Given the history, I would just respond with a simple "no" and be done with it. She doesn't need to explain why and elaborating with more detail invites further negotiation. Let your yes be yes and your no be no kinda thing.

ChickenStash

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2021, 09:40:31 AM »
If it were me, I'd probably do it but make sure they took notes on how it's done so they can DIY it in the future. From that point on I'd refer them to the software manufacturer for support. If there's no documentation or support, I'd probably write up a tip sheet with as much info as I could recall and leave it behind. Basically, set them up with what I can, but from that point I'd probably wash my hands of the whole situation.

As an IT person already, I really don't like doing support for outdated software - lived (well, living) that movie. They have to budget for new gear just like anything else in the business.

Two years later, though?  If an employer from two years ago called me and wanted me to come in and work for them for free, they can go pound sand...

For a small business owner... yeah, I'd do it with the caveats I specified. I even answer email from my previous employers/coworkers about projects I worked or code I wrote long after I've left. For an employer, I won't actually do the work but I will share info and guidance as long as it doesn't take too much of my time.

I'm assuming you do this to maintain the business relationship, networking and connections right? I can very well see why one might do that, especially if it somehow creates or provisions opportunities for further business, etc.

In this case, I don't see any sort of good that could come out of it. The new owner took over their restaurant and is driving it into the ground. My FIL actually thinks this new owner is shady and she's "running the business" as a front for something else. We honestly have no idea how she has been able to keep afloat during the pandemic - 99% of the Yelp reviews are 1-2 star reviews since the change of hands. Recurring themes in the reviews: "the owner argued with me and yelled at me after I complained about the food. She wouldn't give me my money back either" and "my delivery arrived with the Styrofoam container of soup completely melted in the bag" - my wife just needs to sever all communications with this woman.

Either she's shady or she's that terrible of a business owner and the landlord is writing it all off. On a side note: I'm wondering if she's actually not paying rent or not paying rent in full per the current moratorium. Either way, I can't imagine the landlord being too happy about things either.

For the employer stuff, yeah, I like to keep those bridges alive and well, if possible. So far, I've only quit one company on "bad terms" and even then I still kept things a professional as I could and responded to tech questions from the good coworkers after I left - I did ghost a few, though. The upbeat, help when I can attitude has added quite a bit to my salary over the years.

Obviously, I don't have the whole back story here so I'm just saying how I would have handled it from the start. I'd answer what I could and write down all the info I could come up with to help them DIY, including a demo or two, at most. I have a soft spot for small business owners and technology because I have dealt with quite a few over the years. I know that most of them have very little knowledge about dealing with anything remotely considered "IT" in nature so I give them the benefit of the doubt and try to help when I can. That said, I do my best to make sure they clearly know how far I will provide support.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 09:42:11 AM by ChickenStash »

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2021, 10:09:12 AM »
She has already done the woman enough favors - 20 emails back and forth with the escrow agent *on behalf* of the new owner to get her documentation she needs so she can prove she paid off the loan my in-laws carried back. Not my wife's problem or my in-laws' problem that the escrow agent has dragged her feet for over half a year on that. Not their problem that the new owner doesn't know how to effectively communicate. And then the "oh btw, how do I change the menu prices on this old system?" - c'mon, if you're a new owner taking over isn't this one of the first things you'd figure out? And if you can't, why wouldn't you just update the system? I think this new owner wanted "turnkey" (even though everything about the restaurant my in-laws run was archaic and outdated when they sold it) and still wants "free support" for it. I wouldn't be surprised if she still bothers my father-in-law about things/asks for his help and he actually gives it (but he wouldn't say anything to my wife because he's the kind of person who allows people to take advantage of him).

Anyway, I was driving the point hard to my wife that it's not her problem that this new owner sucks. She became free of the 'binds' of the restaurant once it was sold. The new owner chose to buy it and now *she* owns it. My wife doesn't work for her. After enough of that, my wife slowly but reluctantly agreed and is planning to write back "Sorry, I don't know or recall how to do that" - if the new owner becomes insistent, then I told my wife to start up a conversation with her on providing services and billing for the time. The first "tech support" instance was a freebie but this is not. 3 hours total drive time + 15-20 mins of support time is all going to be billable. x1.5 for it being outside normal business hours. She can start her rates at $250/hour.  My wife said that it costs probably around $150 for the company who set the system up to come out and make these kinds of changes. Maybe she can bill $149.99 + drive time if she wants to be nice. LOL

If your wife really wants a side-hustle consulting gig then, sure, go nuts. If she's charging $ I believe this creates the potential for liability if something goes wrong. At least that's my understanding, but I'm not an attorney. So I would consider some type of incorporation, especially since this new owner sounds particularly incompetent. This will also complicate your taxes, and the new owners will need to file a 1099 if the billed amount per calendar year exceeds $600.

Given the history, I would just respond with a simple "no" and be done with it. She doesn't need to explain why and elaborating with more detail invites further negotiation. Let your yes be yes and your no be no kinda thing.

Good point - I suppose she could consult for the restaurant since she knows so many things about it... but it has been a pain point her whole life and quite stressful, having to support her parents with many of the backend things. There are a lot of negative associations with that place and it was a huge burden to have it taken out of their lives once it was sold and the loan finally paid off. So I doubt she'll actually be interested in doing any further business with them. Like her dad though, she has trouble saying "no" and putting her foot down, so I'll have to help her with that. She was saying she thinks her dad will be upset with her if the owner ends up calling him and trying to put him in that position to try to squeeze them. So she'll have to push back and really get her dad to do the same if it's the case that the new owner is bothering them.

For the employer stuff, yeah, I like to keep those bridges alive and well, if possible. So far, I've only quit one company on "bad terms" and even then I still kept things a professional as I could and responded to tech questions from the good coworkers after I left - I did ghost a few, though. The upbeat, help when I can attitude has added quite a bit to my salary over the years.

Obviously, I don't have the whole back story here so I'm just saying how I would have handled it from the start. I'd answer what I could and write down all the info I could come up with to help them DIY, including a demo or two, at most. I have a soft spot for small business owners and technology because I have dealt with quite a few over the years. I know that most of them have very little knowledge about dealing with anything remotely considered "IT" in nature so I give them the benefit of the doubt and try to help when I can. That said, I do my best to make sure they clearly know how far I will provide support.

I see - I resonate with you on that. One of my last places turned into sort of a 'burnt bridge' after I left but I don't believe it was my own doing - I think the manager was bitter and upset that I left and took it a little too personally. He actually called me after I left for some questions on accessing some stuff and I gave him what he needed but he still shut me out after that (never accepted my invitation to add via Linkedin etc), so not too fond of him after that incident.

The thing about this new owner is that she had plenty of time after the initial sale to get all these things sorted out as far as the ordering system. That's like a *huge* component of the business so as a new owner coming in, that should really be one of the high priority items to understand, especially if you are insistent on not replacing a legacy setup. Maybe she is just naïve and figured "this will take care of itself and is turnkey" but I recall her mentioning to me that she used to work in IT (I think possibly as a project manager)...!?!?!?! I actually helped transition the old website over to her and she was having "technical difficulties" even with that. I don't think she ever actually logged in after I initiated the ownership transfer. Eventually she just let the hosting and domain expire so the website is no more. Anyway, during the first month or so after transition, I think she pinged my in-laws quite a bit for help. So I think part of why I'm also resistant to this help is because we know this woman has the tendency to be conniving...
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 10:19:37 AM by jeromedawg »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2021, 10:15:26 AM »
I'm going to reiterate/clarify what I said initially as I do remember the whole selling the restaurant saga...


I was honestly joking really about your wife even offering to do anything at this point for some inflated price. Businesses that don't want annoying customers sometimes do  a "go away" price estimate to get the point across that they do NOT want to work with the annoying customer but stop just short of telling them so by pricing their work estimate so high as to show they are paying for the annoying factor.

Your wife is allowing herself to be used, because she's likely been trained to be polite and keeps thinking doing small things (these are not small and if she's done 20 different emails/calls/texts - that is again completely insane by the way) and eventually this incompetent jerk will stop using her. But see, that's not going to happen until she develops what is called "a polite spine." She needs to value not just her time DOING the stupid things this person keeps asking of her, but think - she's getting a frisson of panic/obligation every time she sees this person's number/email, she spends time having to figure out what is being asked, then worrying about it, then discussing it with you and her parents and that's not even to the point of doing/not doing whatever the hell it is.

She should absolutely tell them "sorry, can't help you any more" and then ghost this person at this point. She needs to just block the person's number/email and ignore them from here on out.

She doesn't owe them ANYTHING now. They are running THEIR business and they need to stop expecting free help/support or even PAY her for this since she isn't involved and likely doesn't want to be a consultant even otherwise she would have worked out a monthly support fee for all this hand-holding. It's because she feels responsible even though her parents are not the owners any more. This business wasn't even doing that great when they sold it, so your wife should be thrilled to no longer have the worry of if her parents are going to be okay regarding this, why on earth is she still thinking she owes this stranger even a single minute of her time or mental space is just a hold over of feeling overly responsible for bailing them out? It is okay to stop. It is actually right and good for her to cut this off now and give herself permission to walk away completely from this burden.

No more favors. No more forced work. No more "oh maybe if they paid me a small fee" which just makes her feel obligated even more and also adds the whole factor of negotiation and value for her time and guilt if she doesn't do things...

Don't take money for this; just drop it and walk away and be FREE.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 10:17:22 AM by Frankies Girl »

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2021, 10:25:01 AM »
I'm going to reiterate/clarify what I said initially as I do remember the whole selling the restaurant saga...


I was honestly joking really about your wife even offering to do anything at this point for some inflated price. Businesses that don't want annoying customers sometimes do  a "go away" price estimate to get the point across that they do NOT want to work with the annoying customer but stop just short of telling them so by pricing their work estimate so high as to show they are paying for the annoying factor.

Your wife is allowing herself to be used, because she's likely been trained to be polite and keeps thinking doing small things (these are not small and if she's done 20 different emails/calls/texts - that is again completely insane by the way) and eventually this incompetent jerk will stop using her. But see, that's not going to happen until she develops what is called "a polite spine." She needs to value not just her time DOING the stupid things this person keeps asking of her, but think - she's getting a frisson of panic/obligation every time she sees this person's number/email, she spends time having to figure out what is being asked, then worrying about it, then discussing it with you and her parents and that's not even to the point of doing/not doing whatever the hell it is.

She should absolutely tell them "sorry, can't help you any more" and then ghost this person at this point. She needs to just block the person's number/email and ignore them from here on out.

She doesn't owe them ANYTHING now. They are running THEIR business and they need to stop expecting free help/support or even PAY her for this since she isn't involved and likely doesn't want to be a consultant even otherwise she would have worked out a monthly support fee for all this hand-holding. It's because she feels responsible even though her parents are not the owners any more. This business wasn't even doing that great when they sold it, so your wife should be thrilled to no longer have the worry of if her parents are going to be okay regarding this, why on earth is she still thinking she owes this stranger even a single minute of her time or mental space is just a hold over of feeling overly responsible for bailing them out? It is okay to stop. It is actually right and good for her to cut this off now and give herself permission to walk away completely from this burden.

No more favors. No more forced work. No more "oh maybe if they paid me a small fee" which just makes her feel obligated even more and also adds the whole factor of negotiation and value for her time and guilt if she doesn't do things...

Don't take money for this; just drop it and walk away and be FREE.

I agree 100% - I'm going to tell her to not even bother carrying on with the conversation if this owner tries to push it, even for money. She just needs to shut the door. I think the concern is that the owner is going to contact my in-laws (father-in-law specifically) and start bothering them. I have a feeling he'll just get tired of it and shut her out as well but not sure how to navigate things if he starts conceding to helping her (because of how much of a "yes" man he is). What's annoying, is that I believe there are some mail pieces addressed to them that are still going to the business. So I think every now and then the owner pings them to let them know they have stuff. I don't know if she asks for other 'favors' in addition when they go to pick up. But I think she feels she has 'backup support' with my wife. I told my wife that she's basically being used as am unpaid and free office admin/assistant to do busy work that the owner "doesn't have time for" otherwise. I think once I put it in perspective, my wife understood that her time is more valuable.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 10:30:22 AM by jeromedawg »

draco44

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2021, 11:00:11 AM »
I'm with the drop this and don't look back crowd. There was a grace period for transition purposes and it has already expired. That's great from your most recent post that your wife seems to be moving towards valuing her time more.

The way I think about this is: what would the new owner do if your wife were truly unavailable and didn't even have the option of helping? Like if you'd both retired to live off-grid somewhere in a tropical paradise in another timezone with no internet service and a three-hour bus ride to get to the nearest phone? Or became incapacitated? Or just truly didn't remember any of this nonsense? If you were gone, they would figure something out. Or they wouldn't, the business might fail, and if it did it wouldn't be your fault. You can't stop the new owner from asking for help but it's very much in your control how you chose to respond to that ask.

Catbert

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2021, 12:02:48 PM »
Yep, don't do the work at any price.  Get vague, "Gee it's been two years, I don't really remember...".  So one final email and then block 'em.  Suggest your in-laws do the same. 

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2021, 12:54:28 PM »
What the others have said.

But also, your in laws still have mail going to that address?!? Spend the time to help them get those addresses updated. And do a post office change of address to divert anything that goes there. A clean break is needed.

Papa bear

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2021, 01:21:22 PM »
Wow. A greedy bunch we have become. Obviously we only have the info given here in the post, but this doesn’t sound like a big deal at all. Help out, don’t say, “oh no problem, call me anytime” but end with a “hey, glad I could help, you should be good going forward.”

If I was in the situation, I’d help out.  I would still have an emotional attachment to the family business / restaurant and definitely wouldn’t want to see it struggle.

I try to help out with things when I can.  Pay it forward as it is.  Unless is getting to be out of hand, I see no problem here.  Regular thing? Say you’re busy or start charging.  But a few emails and 20 minutes? That’s not a big ask.


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jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2021, 01:34:55 PM »
Wow. A greedy bunch we have become. Obviously we only have the info given here in the post, but this doesn’t sound like a big deal at all. Help out, don’t say, “oh no problem, call me anytime” but end with a “hey, glad I could help, you should be good going forward.”

If I was in the situation, I’d help out.  I would still have an emotional attachment to the family business / restaurant and definitely wouldn’t want to see it struggle.

I try to help out with things when I can.  Pay it forward as it is.  Unless is getting to be out of hand, I see no problem here.  Regular thing? Say you’re busy or start charging.  But a few emails and 20 minutes? That’s not a big ask.


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For my wife the restaurant was a burden and source of stress growing up her whole life (she was pretty much an indentured servant until we got married - then she became a "part-time indentured employee" lol) . It was her parents' priority and the "prized sibling" - she resented it and felt on edge every time something about the restaurant would come up. It's 1.5 hours away from where we live, and before we had kids we would go up there every month to "visit" with her parents and it was always at the restaurant and rarely ever at their house (they spent more time at the restaurant than they did their home). It wasn't even relaxing - she often would end up sitting behind the desk, answering phone calls (she told me that every single time she heard the phone ring while she was there she would tense up with a guttural reaction and twisted stomach) and taking orders if her mom stepped away. It was an unspoken expectation for her to contribute to the restaurant if she even stepped foot inside the place. It became a point of contention for us in multiple instances because there were times that we were there for hours and she was basically running around doing restaurant work. Her parents ran the restaurant literally 365 days a year from 10am-1am. They finally sold it in 2019 and retired in their mid-70s. A huge burden was lifted of everyone's back once it was sold but the new owner has everyone's contact info and every time she pops up the stress and burden rushes back to my wife.  On top of all this, there were *always* concerns about money and finances and how my in-laws handled their money - in addition to being awful money managers, they didn't make all that much income from the restaurant and had trouble paying rents for a period of time, which added to the overhead stress. All of this it trickled down to my wife. If you want to talk about "risk averse" in terms of finances, she's probably the epitome of the word, and it's because of her life growing up as a "poor restaurant kid"

So I'd say she has more than "paid her dues" to her parents and to the business. The difficulty she has had detaching from this, because it's really part of her identity if you think about it, is extremely hard and she knows it. This isn't so much about wanting to help others out as it is about making a clean break from a lifelong curse that has impacted who she is as a person and her health. So I think it's hard for her to dichotomize "just helping the new owner" from "this place has negatively contributed to my life" even if that's what she wants to do.


What the others have said.

But also, your in laws still have mail going to that address?!? Spend the time to help them get those addresses updated. And do a post office change of address to divert anything that goes there. A clean break is needed.
Oh they've changed and updated their mailing address but you know how sometimes important mail pieces slip through the cracks and still end up going to the old address (maybe due to name misspellings and things like that). In the case of the business, I think my FIL had some personal items/bills setup to go to the name of the business rather than his name, so also stuff like that. I think these days it's a bit rarer that anything goes but I wouldn't be surprised either if important mail pieces are still being sent there...
« Last Edit: April 22, 2021, 01:57:16 PM by jeromedawg »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2021, 01:41:18 PM »
Wow. A greedy bunch we have become. Obviously we only have the info given here in the post, but this doesn’t sound like a big deal at all. Help out, don’t say, “oh no problem, call me anytime” but end with a “hey, glad I could help, you should be good going forward.”

If I was in the situation, I’d help out.  I would still have an emotional attachment to the family business / restaurant and definitely wouldn’t want to see it struggle.

I try to help out with things when I can.  Pay it forward as it is.  Unless is getting to be out of hand, I see no problem here.  Regular thing? Say you’re busy or start charging.  But a few emails and 20 minutes? That’s not a big ask.


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@Papa bear

Disagree, I do see that you are also of a kind nature which is awesome, but as I do know the backstory - It IS out of hand. And it is never being greedy to put up reasonable boundaries to prevent jerky people from taking advantage of kindness.

The TL/DR is this business owner purchased a struggling restaurant business run by the OP's inlaws over 2 years ago. TWO YEARS AGO. They are not just asking the DAUGHTER of the former owners for a few minutes of her time; they have sent 20 emails just recently and emailed/called her repeatedly over the last 2 years, regarding things they should have taken care of themselves since they own the business and the OP's wife was not even a paid employee. She did things for her PARENTS when it was their business because she loved them. She shouldn't be obligated to continue this for a random person that took it over forever.

OP's wife already has answered tons of questions and facilitated many updates/changes and helped them for months after the sale. The business owner even kind of jerked everyone around for a while and they had a not conventional exchange of funds/ownership that wasn't the best arrangement possible for the inlaws just to get them free of this burden.

This is NOT a family business any more. This was a stressful burden when it was her family's business is a terribly unhealthy thing to worry over or continue to be involved in at this point, especially when the business owner is intent on taking advantage of her good and helpful nature. 

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2021, 01:50:06 PM »
Wow. A greedy bunch we have become. Obviously we only have the info given here in the post, but this doesn’t sound like a big deal at all. Help out, don’t say, “oh no problem, call me anytime” but end with a “hey, glad I could help, you should be good going forward.”

If I was in the situation, I’d help out.  I would still have an emotional attachment to the family business / restaurant and definitely wouldn’t want to see it struggle.

I try to help out with things when I can.  Pay it forward as it is.  Unless is getting to be out of hand, I see no problem here.  Regular thing? Say you’re busy or start charging.  But a few emails and 20 minutes? That’s not a big ask.


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@Papa bear

Disagree, I do see that you are also of a kind nature which is awesome, but as I do know the backstory - It IS out of hand. And it is never being greedy to put up reasonable boundaries to prevent jerky people from taking advantage of kindness.

The TL/DR is this business owner purchased a struggling restaurant business run by the OP's inlaws over 2 years ago. TWO YEARS AGO. They are not just asking the DAUGHTER of the former owners for a few minutes of her time; they have sent 20 emails just recently and emailed/called her repeatedly over the last 2 years, regarding things they should have taken care of themselves since they own the business and the OP's wife was not even a paid employee. She did things for her PARENTS when it was their business because she loved them. She shouldn't be obligated to continue this for a random person that took it over forever.

OP's wife already has answered tons of questions and facilitated many updates/changes and helped them for months after the sale. The business owner even kind of jerked everyone around for a while and they had a not conventional exchange of funds/ownership that wasn't the best arrangement possible for the inlaws just to get them free of this burden.

This is NOT a family business any more. This was a stressful burden when it was her family's business is a terribly unhealthy thing to worry over or continue to be involved in at this point, especially when the business owner is intent on taking advantage of her good and helpful nature.

Thanks @Frankies Girl - you've summarized it better than I ever could.

That said, my wife replied earlier with this one-liner: "I'm sorry, it has been so long that I don't remember the steps to make that change."

If the owner keeps trying to contact her I'm going do as someone suggested and block the number(s) and email. If she wants to go through the route of my FIL, then fine but at least my wife can still say "no" to him and scold him about still helping her at that point in time.

Papa bear

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2021, 05:59:16 PM »
Wow. A greedy bunch we have become. Obviously we only have the info given here in the post, but this doesn’t sound like a big deal at all. Help out, don’t say, “oh no problem, call me anytime” but end with a “hey, glad I could help, you should be good going forward.”

If I was in the situation, I’d help out.  I would still have an emotional attachment to the family business / restaurant and definitely wouldn’t want to see it struggle.

I try to help out with things when I can.  Pay it forward as it is.  Unless is getting to be out of hand, I see no problem here.  Regular thing? Say you’re busy or start charging.  But a few emails and 20 minutes? That’s not a big ask.


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@Papa bear

Disagree, I do see that you are also of a kind nature which is awesome, but as I do know the backstory - It IS out of hand. And it is never being greedy to put up reasonable boundaries to prevent jerky people from taking advantage of kindness.

The TL/DR is this business owner purchased a struggling restaurant business run by the OP's inlaws over 2 years ago. TWO YEARS AGO. They are not just asking the DAUGHTER of the former owners for a few minutes of her time; they have sent 20 emails just recently and emailed/called her repeatedly over the last 2 years, regarding things they should have taken care of themselves since they own the business and the OP's wife was not even a paid employee. She did things for her PARENTS when it was their business because she loved them. She shouldn't be obligated to continue this for a random person that took it over forever.

OP's wife already has answered tons of questions and facilitated many updates/changes and helped them for months after the sale. The business owner even kind of jerked everyone around for a while and they had a not conventional exchange of funds/ownership that wasn't the best arrangement possible for the inlaws just to get them free of this burden.

This is NOT a family business any more. This was a stressful burden when it was her family's business is a terribly unhealthy thing to worry over or continue to be involved in at this point, especially when the business owner is intent on taking advantage of her good and helpful nature.
Now this changes things.  I didn’t know the backstory.  It’s already gotten out of hand, time to pass off firmly, yet politely.

Good call troops.


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ChpBstrd

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2021, 12:57:24 PM »
IDK, I'd invest 20 minutes of consulting in exchange for a free meal for me and a spouse. That's a bargain for all concerned. Just make the barter explicit, not some implicit expectation.

This could become a regular date night or something, as long as the relationship with the restaurant owner doesn't get weird. The tricky part is do you still get the meal if you can't solve the problem?

My parents had a small business like that, and software knowledge gaps have a way of grinding things to a complete and utter halt. Meanwhile, the cost of upgrading or hiring consultants is astronomical. I spent many lunch breaks trying to help them out when they couldn't process a single sale, and we losing hundreds of dollars per hour. Usually the networking problem / inventory problem / printer issue / operator error could be resolved in 20 minutes plus travel time.

I'd suggest pointing them to online cash register software subscriptions. This is much easier than installing software, dealing with hardware failures and transferring licenses, local configurations, etc. If you're savy enough to get their records transferred, you could get lots and lots of free meals.

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2021, 01:08:59 PM »
IDK, I'd invest 20 minutes of consulting in exchange for a free meal for me and a spouse. That's a bargain for all concerned. Just make the barter explicit, not some implicit expectation.

This could become a regular date night or something, as long as the relationship with the restaurant owner doesn't get weird. The tricky part is do you still get the meal if you can't solve the problem?

My parents had a small business like that, and software knowledge gaps have a way of grinding things to a complete and utter halt. Meanwhile, the cost of upgrading or hiring consultants is astronomical. I spent many lunch breaks trying to help them out when they couldn't process a single sale, and we losing hundreds of dollars per hour. Usually the networking problem / inventory problem / printer issue / operator error could be resolved in 20 minutes plus travel time.

I'd suggest pointing them to online cash register software subscriptions. This is much easier than installing software, dealing with hardware failures and transferring licenses, local configurations, etc. If you're savy enough to get their records transferred, you could get lots and lots of free meals.

LOL, I don't think either of us would want to eat that food. I heard rumors of the owner, upon having food tossed by a food inspector, pull the food back out of the garbage and salvage/use it after the inspector had left. And all of the current Yelp reviews have been pretty much 1-star (with people saying 0-stars if they could). So doing work in exchange for that is definitely a no-go hahahaha.

What's ridiculous is that after my wife responded back telling the current owner that she doesn't remember how to use the software and sorry she can't help, the current owner replied back in a matter of a day or two saying she figured it out. She also replied back about the escrow docs saying though she received them she didn't get what she needed. The real estate broker was also on this thread so my wife reached out to him and he told her that he'd basically follow-up from here on out. Pretty ridiculous. The woman knows *exactly* what she's doing and it's apparent to me that she is just trying to milk it and take advantage.

In any case, we're done with that place. My wife doesn't need the extra stress of anything associated with it. "Free food" from that place means the possibility of getting food poisoning hahaha.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 01:10:53 PM by jeromedawg »

cchrissyy

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2021, 01:17:06 PM »
100% agree this person is trying to take advantage of your initial goodwill and weaker boundaries.
It has gone on for way too long and it not appropriate to offer any more help / advice / notes / work / suggestions.

At this point is is perfectly appropriate to answer with a direct "no", or if she prefers, she can ignore and delete without any explanation.

Car Jack

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #28 on: April 28, 2021, 09:28:03 AM »
My parents sold their insurance agency some years ago to another family owned agency in town.  My mom worked for the buying agent for a year.  It was a paid position in order to train their people and be able to answer these questions.  I think this was a very smart move on the part of the buying agent.

It sounds like this new restaurant owner should have entered into some agreement for either part time, per diem or full time work for some time period until they were able to get their act together.  Sounds like they're a n00b running a business.

jeromedawg

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2021, 09:59:08 AM »
My parents sold their insurance agency some years ago to another family owned agency in town.  My mom worked for the buying agent for a year.  It was a paid position in order to train their people and be able to answer these questions.  I think this was a very smart move on the part of the buying agent.

It sounds like this new restaurant owner should have entered into some agreement for either part time, per diem or full time work for some time period until they were able to get their act together.  Sounds like they're a n00b running a business.

I agree. This new business owner is horrible and I'm not sure she knows what she's doing, although she sure acts like it. My in-laws were always suspicious of this person too - they don't understand how she's able to keep the business afloat the way she has been running it and can't help but think the business is a front for something else... who knows. At the end of the day, they were just happy that someone bought their restaurant so they could retire. But yea, if this owner really wanted to do things right, she should have paid for longer term/transitionary help - although, I'm glad she didn't ask for that and have my in-laws or wife agree to do it (I can't imagine the horror of working for a person like this). She's super cheap - I've read many Yelp reviews of hot food being delivered in *melted* Styrofoam containers because she cheaps out on using the lowest possibly quality items. Also consistent reviews about how she argues with customers and sometimes yells at them over deliveries, orders, etc gone wrong. But the story about her pulling food out of the trash after the food inspector tossed it is the worst... if she's willing to do that, I'm sure she's capable of much worse. Anyway, at this rate my wife is pretty much resolved to stay out of that business. She called my in-laws too and reminded them that they ought not to meddle in those affairs either - they told her the owner has called them on several occasions but it didn't sound like anything too involved. 
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 10:01:27 AM by jeromedawg »

Psychstache

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Re: Skeleton in the closet: restaurant owner asking my wife for help...
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2021, 01:20:41 PM »

I agree. This new business owner is horrible and I'm not sure she knows what she's doing, although she sure acts like it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect