Kapos: Drama brewing over Bow Truss Coffee deal
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Marcus Lemonis is searching for a business partner on his new CNBC show, “The Partner.” In real life, though, he’s looking to part ways with a collaborator: Phil Tadros, the founder of Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.
Last month, Lemonis signed a deal to become a major stakeholder in Tadros’s Chicago-based coffee chain after pouring $100,000 into the company.
Lemonis says he’s since learned that landlords, including the city of Chicago, haven’t all been paid, that Tadros is behind two months in paying insurance premiums and some employee paychecks have bounced.
“I understand vendors don’t always get paid, and I’ll take care of that. But when employees don’t get paid, that’s a problem,” says Lemonis, adding he’s working now to buy out Tadros.
Tadros acknowledges the problems. “If I wasn’t as transparent as possible then I made a mistake, but this information is all part of the due diligence period and it’s all very solvable with money and support.”
Tadros says there’s $2.3 million in debt in the letter of intent and suggests maybe Lemonis “is just a smart businessman putting me in a position of duress to negotiate a better deal.”
It’s the kind of drama that makes great television, but Lemonis doesn’t want it in his business life.
“I don’t mind when businesses or business owners need help and sometimes make mistakes or lose their way, but not when they behave this way,” he says.
When the deal was first reported, Lemonis talked about scaling, or expanding, the company.
Bow Truss, which is known for its finely roasted coffee and quirky interiors, has 11 locations in Chicago. One of them is in the Gold Coast’s Mariano Park, part of the Chicago Park District. Tadros acknowledges the park district is owed $64,000 in rent.
Lemonis has gained national attention for his role as host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” which features him investing in struggling companies. In “The Partner,” he’ll hire someone to help manage all the businesses he’s acquired.
All that TV work is fun for Lemonis. His real focus is his work at Camping World, which sells recreational vehicles. Lemonis is CEO.
Obama disciple gets Chicago support
The night before President Barack Obama‘s farewell speech at McCormick Place, one of his disciples will take center stage at a Chicago fundraiser.
New York Assemblyman Michael Blake, a Northwestern grad who worked for Obama’s political campaign and the White House, will be feted Monday at Bureau Bar. The fundraiser benefits his campaign for vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. Cost is $44 — a cute nod to Obama being the 44th president.
“He’s talented with a bright future,” says city Treasurer Kurt Summers, who’s considered a candidate for governor. He’s a co-host along with John Rogers Jr., an Obama friend and CEO of Ariel Investments, and Ariel executive John Oxtoby.
Others supporters include Michael Strautmanis, the former White House aide who now serves as vice president of civic engagement of the Obama Foundation; Chicago banker Alexi Giannoulias; former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau; and former Obama bodyman Reggie Love.
Beating the drum against Trump
A few Chicagoans have joined celebrities Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing and Ed Asner in a resistance campaign to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.
“It’s one of those times in history where we have to band together,” says drummer Ted Sirota, a Chicago jazz and reggae musician. He describes the Trump administration as “a fascist force that threatens the very existence of humanity and the planet.”
RefuseFascism.org, as the group is called, published a full-page ad in the New York Times last week headlined: “No! In the Name of Humanity We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America.”
Along with the ad campaign, the group plans protests across the country leading up to inauguration day Jan. 20.
Sirota is a familiar name in Chicago’s music scene. He’s the leader of a few bands and drums with Sabertooth, which plays the Green Mill on Saturday nights.
Other Chicagoans supporting the organization include Shannon Dawdy, a MacArthur fellow and anthropologist at the University of Chicago, and retired education professor Bill Ayers, who in the 1970s led the Weather Underground protest group.
Soap maker stars on WTTW show
Deb Kraemer got a kick out of showing off her soap-making shop to Eric Gorges, host of “A Craftsman’s Legacy.”
“Women are usually more interested in this than men, so it was nice to have him show genuine interest,” Kraemer says of Gorgos, a manly man who builds motorcycles when he’s not showcasing the work of American artisans.
Kraemer, owner of Abbey Brown Soap Artisan, will be featured on his show Jan. 10 on WTTW.
She’ll explain the science of soap-making and she teach Gorges how to make his own shaving soap. He uses cedar wood, fir and pine. Nothing girly about that.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.