Battle over Butcher’s over
July 20, 2011
In an ironic twist of fate, plaintiffs in a 2010 lawsuit ended up paying the defendant last month.
The dispute was among former partners of Butcher’s Chop House over the restaurant’s debt load. Current owner Jesse Shetler said it made for good gossip in the restaurant community.
"I had more phone calls about this than I do on my birthday," he said.
In April 2010, Tarahumara-owner Gregory Grass, Bear Dance-owner Billy Williams, and Jason Schmidt filed a lawsuit against former Butcher’s partner Jesse Shetler.
The four shared responsibility for the restaurant until it began losing money in 2008. The three plaintiffs left the partnership for various reasons, but filed the suit claiming the debt was from Shetler’s mismanagement of finances and that he still owed them for their stakes in the company.
In an interview last week, Shetler said the money troubles were due to the recession.
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"We didn’t think Butcher’s was going to make it through those tough years," he said. "They downright called me a thief and a liar."
Shetler said his partners had access to the company’s books and had no proof of mismanagement. He said his former partners are trying to get back in now that the restaurant is doing well again after they surrendered their stakes.
Eventually, the plaintiffs decided to drop the case in mediation and agreed to pay Shetler’s legal bills.
Grass said in an interview last week the case was dropped because it would be difficult to prove their allegations, but also that they still stand by the original complaint.
As part of the agreement, Shetler dropped a countersuit saying the old partners still owed him for their portions of the company’s debt from 2008.
The story has a happy ending, however.
Grass and Williams are running successful restaurants in Midway, and Shetler has paid off Butcher’s debt and is doing well.
Shetler said he hired effective managers after taking control.
"Competent management and a lot of loyal, hardworking staff members is what turned this thing around," he said.