All 10 retail locations of Chicago-based Bow Truss Coffee Roasters remain closed today after employees staged an organized walkout yesterday, citing missed and bounced checks.
Bow Truss founder and owner Phil Tadros told Daily Coffee News this morning that he is working on bridging options to meet payroll and other financial obligations of the business following what he described as a “bait and switch” at the end of the business day last Friday, in which he was expecting a wire transfer loan from celebrity entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis.
In December, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Lemonis, the star of CNBC’s “The Profit” had agreed to buy a 90-percent majority stake in the roasting and retail company, founded by Tadros in 2012. Lemonis later publicly aired concerns about Bow Truss’ financials in multiple interviews with Crain’s. Yesterday, he told the newspaper he has “zero interest” in a Bow Truss partnership.
Tadros told Daily Coffee News that the approximately $3.25 million deal was royalty-based, and came after he was already in promising negotiations with multiple other potential long-term business partners — including a venture capital firm with holdings in the specialty coffee sphere.
Tadros said Lemonis and his partners had open access to Bow Truss’ books during the ongoing due-diligence process, while regularly privately communicating with staff.
“You’ve already said you own it, you’re talking to my employees… You’ve infiltrated the company,” Tadros said of Lemonis’ recent involvement. “You signed a letter of intent. Follow through.” He added, “If you care so much about the staff, if you care so much about helping a small business in a time of need, why not.”
While the relationship with Lemonis has clearly soured, Tadros said he’s hopeful for other potential short-term bridging prospects to get staff paid and Bow Truss back up and running before longer-term deals can be reconsidered.
“I don’t blame them. These guys just want to get paid,” Tadros said of the employee walkout. “At the end of the day, it’s on me. It’s all my fault.”