Signs Of A Bad Partnership
QUESTION FROM: Anonymous
Money is a bit tight at the moment, and I've been offered a job that would mean good income for me. Just with a less than trustworthy individual, who is an attorney herself... Sound tricky? It is.
I live in a small, rural town where opportunity is close to 0. My education and experience make me over-qualified for every open opposition. Moving is not currently an option. So, I am creating my own food business. I need startup funds. I've been asked to design a menu, train staff, design restaurant layout--the whole works, for a restaurant owner currently sitting on an empty 2nd restaurant. She would pay me incredible sums of money to do this job, but she is known for not keeping her word, and for changing her mind constantly. I was her KM and head chef at her other restaurant. I promised myself I would never let her take advantage of me again. But this deal could provide just the money I need to really move forward with my own endeavors. It sucks that she's manipulative, but I feel I could stay on top of "her" game if I really set myself up for success in this agreement.
Honestly, what I'm more worried about is her "moving the goalposts" indefinitely, so that my job is never finished. It the the most God-awful frustrating thing on the planet. She will pay me... but maybe way later or after way more work than we agreed upon... like, I wouldn't put it past her to ask me to do something ridiculous like refinish the entire restaurant's floors and tables myself, as part of, say, my agreement to redesign the layout and make it more inviting.
Does anybody have experience with drawing up a contract for working with a restaurant owner, or becoming employed by said owner under specific agreements? This is kind of an unusual situation. Looking for some legal advice, if anyone would be so kind!
Less than trustworthy AND a lawyer!?
However tight things are now - they can (and believe me they will) get worse.
Any contract this person is willing to sign likely has either a loophole or a cost to enforce that they know they can exploit. A lawyer will be much more meticulous than you and if they're a good one - more meticulous than the one you can afford (if money is really tight as you say).
Believe me. I’ve seen quite a lot of this. One simple turn of phrase - and sometimes even one word can be the difference between your success and not only bankruptcy..but your ability to work in the industry as a competitor. Any lawyer can tell you whether or not a contract is legal, valid or "equitable" but unless they understand the finest points of the restaurant business (both inside and outside of the four walls) they are likely to miss a requirement or duty to perform that is unrealistic or worse - unattainable and could possibly result in your default or breach of contract.
Don’t waste your time! Don't be in a rush to make a big mistake (you'll likely be too busy to notice the better opportunity). And most importantly - don’t empower anyone significantly lacking in the integrity department by showing others that this person is worth working with or for.