My Short Stint In The Restaurant Business

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I have a friend that owns a couple BBQ restaurants in the area and since I have been layed off twice in the last 8 months I spoke with him about setting up a tent in our front yard.  I live on Main Street and there are commercial building around me with a stop light on the corner.  He thought it was a great idea and went to speak to the city about it.

He spoke with the guy that gives out the business license who told him that he didn’t think it would be a problem, and he would check with the city attorney to be sure.  If there was a problem he was going to call and let us know.

I followed up with Charlie several times over the next week to find out if he had heard from the city.  He had not so we set up.  It was the perfect day to do so.  The County Fair was just starting and our home is on the way to the fair so we get a lot of drive by traffic.

We started later than I had hoped and didn’t get the food there until after 3:00pm.  Business was really slow.  We sold one sandwich.

Just after 5pm a police officer came by and asked us for our city business license.  I repeated the information Charlie told me to say which was the guy he spoke with said it wouldn’t be a problem. Officer Friendly said that wasn’t true and there was no way the city would say that.

I promptly called Charlie up and told him what was going on.  Charlie gave the name of the guy he spoke with  and the officer went back to his car to call him.  About five minutes later he emerged from his car and told us Charlie had lied.  The city guy claims he told Charlie it wouldn’t be worth the hassle and it would cost too much to do it and not to do it.

That was a first.  I had Charlie on the phone so he could here what was being said.  Officer Friendly proceed to tell my wife and I that we had broken the law.  We repeatedly told him that Charlie told us [name removed to protect the corrupt] said it wouldn’t be a problem.

He then went on a rant about how dishonest Charlie is and how he is a liar.  The cop then told us he can and will give us a ticket for failure to obtain a business license because we broke the law.  We repeatedly told him that as far as we knew we had received permission from the city.

He had another officer come over to right up the ticket.  I asked our new friend how much it would be and he said he has no idea. It could be $25 or $2,500, at which point my wife teared up.

Our friend’s demeanor changed when he made my wife cry.  He wasn’t going to give a warning instead, but he suddenly started to defend us.  He told us how we will see what kind of person Charlie is when I have to go to court to see what the judge will do.  He said that since we thought we were doing everything right, he wouldn’t be hard on us but if Charlie was before him he would through the book at him.

Charlie is a good person and wouldn’t lie like that especially since we wanted to open a permanent restaurant in the city.   The next morning he went to the city building to talk with [the lying politician] who was out of town.  He spoke with the other city employee with her stereotypical government employee attitude, but had some luck when he recognized a guy that was there when he spoke the the main guy.

He explained to the lady that [soon to be unemployed] said he didn’t see a problem with it and would call if there was a problem. Charlie then turned to the other guy that was there and said something like, “You were there, that is what he said wasn’t it?” to which the guy replied, “Ya, something like that.”

The lady then explained in an abrupt manner that you cannot run business, even temporary, from a residence.  It either has to be residential or commercial.  You can’t sleep where you do business.

Amazing that the main guy didn’t think of that in the first place.

Charlie then went to the court to see about getting the ticket deleted.  He spoke with the secretary to the Prosecutor and after listening to Charlie’s story she said that she would call him back and let him if I even had to appear in court.

I sure hope I don’t have to go.  I know Charlie will take care of the fine if there is one, but there never should have been a ticket.

The moral of the story is, carry a voice recorder with you whenever you speak with a politician, government worker, or police officer.  If it is your word against theirs, the government is always right.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Update On The Restaurant Fiasco | on 08.21.09 at 10:55 pm

[...] you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!In an earlier post, I mentioned the drama that took place around my wife and I selling BBQ from our front yard with [...]

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