Drama brewing in Bow Truss Coffee deal with Lemonis
January 8th, 2017
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. Lemonis says and 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.