UPDATE: Meander’s Kitchen changes management, closes early today, says it will reopen Monday

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Popular diner Meander’s Kitchen in White Center closed early today – about two hours short of its usual 3 pm closing.

That wouldn’t be noteworthy, except for the circumstances: A management change, made with King County Sheriff’s Office deputies standing by, following 12-plus hours of unofficial claims, attributed to employees, that today would be Meander’s last day of operations.

First word of this came with postings in various spots on Facebook late Saturday night/early Sunday morning – including the “posts by others” section of the WSB page – saying that Sunday would be the restaurant’s last day open and urging customers to come show support. We also received a text message to that effect, saying the staff was opening the restaurant in hopes of making enough money to cover payroll and vendors. By morning, this sign was up at the restaurant (several people texted us the image):

Patrons told us employees were also telling them personally that it was closing. Contacted via Facebook, restaurant founder Miranda Krone – working out of town as a maritime chef – told us that was definitely not true, and that a new general manager/partner, Afton Larsen, who had been part of Meander’s operations in its early West Seattle days, would arrive at the restaurant later in the day to sort things out.

Larsen also contacted us directly to say she would be at the restaurant “this afternoon to talk with staff in person and keep our doors open.” And a post on the restaurant’s official FB page echoed, “We are NOT closing”:

We had planned to check in by mid-afternoon – and then came a text from a patron about the arrival of deputies, around 1:15 pm, with diners being told that service was ended for the day (regular daily closing time has been 3 pm). That accelerated our plan to go check on the situation. WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand was told on arrival that the deputies were there to ensure an orderly transition, but that there was no trouble and no one had been arrested.

Some employees say their paychecks had bounced, but so far, no one has reported filing a complaint with state Labor and Industries. Larsen (photo below) told us she was just starting to go through the books so didn’t know the status of the restaurant’s accounting yet.

She said some of the current staff has agreed to stay on; she said she hopes Meander’s will be open tomorrow, usual hours, but if circumstances make that infeasible, they would expect to reopen by midweek, potentially with limited service until things are straightened out.

Meander’s first opened in January 2011 in the tiny ex-Jade West Café north of Morgan Junction. Its popularity led Krone to seek a new, larger space, and Meander’s moved to its first White Center space in fall 2012. That turned out to be a bit too big, she said, moving the restaurant to its current space at 9809 16th SW in late summer 2013.

6:54 PM UPDATE: Via e-mail, Larsen says, “We will be open from 10-3 tomorrow running a limited menu with a skeleton crew.”

11:25 PM UPDATE: As discussed in the comment section, while a variety of allegations/rumors continue flying here, we don’t report what can’t be substantiated/verified, until and unless it is. One thing we did verify a short time ago, after some difficulty getting into online court records: An unlawful-detainer (potential eviction) complaint was initiated against the restaurant in late June by the previous tenant from whom they sublease. A hearing date was set for July 10th but online records do not indicate any court action taken then or since. We are seeking clarification from the new management on whether that means it’s been resolved.

11:19 AM MONDAY: Owner Krone responded via text that the rent is now current and resolution of the case is being negotiated by lawyers. Asked if there was any chance the restaurant would be evicted, she replied, no.

84 Replies to "UPDATE: Meander's Kitchen changes management, closes early today, says it will reopen Monday"

  • Cheo August 2, 2015 (4:05 pm)

    Building a lasting business is difficult; building a lasting, highly successful business as a personal dream is nothing short of a miracle—a gift from the universe. When the universe grants you what is denied to so many others and you throw it back in its face to go be flighty, and abandon the gift, the universe tends to take it less than kindly.
    .
    The story of Meanders is a cautionary tale; one of undervaluing and turning your back on the gifts bestowed upon you; a tale of the price of hubris, and of thinking that somehow you could follow every whim on impulse and keep your accomplishments pure.
    .
    There are many prices for success. It’s a shame that, prices paid, someone would turn her back on those who were instrumental in making a dream come true and building something of such value to a community and a staff which depended on it for a living.

  • Elizabeth August 2, 2015 (4:11 pm)

    I look forward to going back soon for their epic waffle selection and veggie gravy!

  • JanS August 2, 2015 (4:20 pm)

    thank you, TR…perhaps that will stop a lot of the unfounded rumors that are circulating at the moment.

    And, welcome back, Afton…sorry it had to be this way.

  • newnative August 2, 2015 (4:59 pm)

    So glad to see Afton back in town!

  • JoB August 2, 2015 (5:59 pm)

    glad to see Afton in charge…
    i would hate to lose my favorite breakfast place

  • justadumbguy August 2, 2015 (6:49 pm)

    What an odd story. I just hope anyone who worked gets paid in full and the issues, whatever they are, get sorted out and Meanders keeps on going. There are a lot of good folk there. (some yummy gravy too)

    • WSB August 2, 2015 (6:53 pm)

      I’m updating the story right now. The new manager says they’ll be open 10 am-3 pm tomorrow, albeit with a limited menu and small crew. – TR

  • i'mcoveredinbees August 2, 2015 (9:36 pm)

    I’m very disappointed in this “story” which does not probe into the situation at all, but instead takes everything the owner and new acting management have said, at face value. There is a lot of bad blood and rumors circulating. It would be nice to be presented with all sides. This is not good journalism.

    • WSB August 2, 2015 (10:08 pm)

      Bees, what we have reported is factual as far as we could verify. And yes indeed, it’s clear there are rumors and bad blood circulating. We have heard allegations made by each “side” against the other. We don’t report or otherwise publish unsubstantiated rumors and allegations. Doesn’t mean anything regarding whether they are true or not, but without substantiation, we don’t report them. The **only** issue that brought this to our attention is a claim that the restaurant was closing, and that was urgent – the claim was that the restaurant was closing after today, and it was made in multiple venues. We reported the claim that it’s closing and the owner/manager’s claim that it’s not closing. That is the only factually verifiable information that I have found.

      From here:

      -Will it indeed stay open? That will be physically verifiable for each day it does or does not open.
      -Will those who say they were not paid report it to authorities so it can be verified? There’s nothing in L&I public files (I am going to call the state tomorrow, sometimes they have newer information than what’s online). The state is very serious about prosecuting wage theft. If it happened here, it needs to be brought to their attention.
      -Is anything else pending? I’m looking into court files, some of which are inaccessible right now (the county doesn’t usually close files until 11 pm each night, not reopened until 4 am, but I’ve been trying since 9:40).

      -TR

  • XXX August 2, 2015 (9:41 pm)

    This fiasco doesn’t surprise me at all. Probably one of the most vile “dining” experiences of my life. Went in once and never went back. I was absolutely mystified by about the rave reviews. Bad food, filthy place, and staff who didn’t seem to give a rip about any of it.

  • April August 2, 2015 (9:53 pm)

    I love Meanders and will always support it but it takes everyone to succeed and problems can’t all be placed on one. Follow your dreams no matter where and when they may lead you. Owners find out how strong the rest of the crew is when their dreams may take them temporarily out of town. Many owners aren’t actively working in the place they built. Keep going Meanders and welcome back Afton!

  • Robble August 2, 2015 (10:01 pm)

    This article was informative but not entirely accurate. This story boils down to gross financial mismanagement and leaving your loyal employees to hang out to dry. I will be contacting The Stranger, The P.I. and the Times to get the real story out. Its not a pretty one, Im disappointed that this story didnt mention the fact that EVERY SINGLE STAFF MEMBER walked out today, Save for one desperate line cook who really needs the money. CAn you read the writing on the wall? There was a mini revolution today within those walls and the Truth WILL come out. Its a shame to see the upper management show their ture colors with timeless issues of greed and deciet. Please stay tuned folks, this story just gets crazier …..

  • miws August 2, 2015 (10:09 pm)

    Well, XXX, apparently those of us that love Meander’s food and atmosphere aren’t quite the sophisticated foodie, with a highly refined palate, that you are.

    .

    Mike

  • love meander August 2, 2015 (10:17 pm)

    Dear Mr xxx

    Having enjoyed many meals at Meanders I’m quite surprised by your report. Your way off the mark. Too bad for you!

  • WSite August 2, 2015 (10:19 pm)

    Great job, Tracy — as always!

  • jissy August 2, 2015 (10:30 pm)

    Very interesting comment, Cheo and Robbie… sounds like you have some insider information? This is all curious to me as it seems this restaurant leaves rumors and hurt feelings in it’s wake. Although hearsay via other business professionals on their block at the original location, I have heard that Meanders left in a very unprofessional manner from the ex-Jade West location owing money to the family.

    Seems a professional reputation is lacking, would love to hear more of the story. Cheo’s comment almost seems poetic, kinda like that Karma thing? Or maybe, “Your sins shall find you out??” — will watch closely how this plays out. I was rather fond of the motley crew of staff at the current location but something definitely seemed off recently.

  • JanS August 2, 2015 (10:45 pm)

    Yes, indeed, one way or the other, the truth will come out eventually……

    sad that people not involved personally share things on social media that are unsubstantiated rumors. In both directions. :( (and I will be the first to admit that I am guilty – but won’t be anymore) Life is going on with or without Meanders drama, that’s for sure. So many more, real stories out there to be told…:(

  • JanS August 2, 2015 (10:47 pm)

    oh, and Robble? back up what you are saying with facts, links, whatever you may have, so we all know…otherwise , it’s more gossip and rumor…and should not be stated as fact until you can prove it. Neither side should be slandered because of this drama as it unfolds

  • JoB August 2, 2015 (10:59 pm)

    all of this he said she said rumors abound stuff that has been flying around today has given me a sour stomach.
    .
    one thing i know for sure.. shutting a restaurant down without the owner’s permission only guarantees that you will not get paid today
    and you won’t be earning a paycheck tomorrow.

    • WSB August 2, 2015 (11:14 pm)

      The Superior Court files finally reopened (just before the regularly scheduled 11 pm shutdown) and documents we were able to download confirm that the unexplained court link upthread is to an unlawful-detainer (potential eviction) allegation filed a month ago against Meander’s by the previous tenant, from whom they sublease, claiming $5K in unpaid rent at the time. A hearing was set for July 10th but the documents in the file do not include the upshot of that hearing, if any, nor the status of the situation. From our past experience covering these types of cases (see Allstar Fitness/West Seattle Athletic Club in particular), a date is set but a hearing is only held if one or both parties need the judge to take action, e.g. if the situation has not been otherwise resolved. I am asking the new manager for comment on the status. – TR

  • Evergreen August 2, 2015 (11:22 pm)

    I once worked for an employer who simply stopped paying the staff and then declared bankruptcy. We didn’t complain to L&I immediately b/c we were promised our paychecks, though late, and gave the employer the benefit of the doubt. When we finally did get paid many months later and due to her bankruptcy, it was only a small partial amount. The employer kept all of her personal items, her large house and Mercedes, but we were all low-paid and struggled to find other jobs without falling behind our personal bills. Lower wage earners are often living paycheck to paycheck, despite working very hard, and falling behind even one paycheck can create a real struggle. I hope that this hasn’t happened to these good people.

  • Robble August 3, 2015 (12:11 am)

    JanS, I have read your opinion and have no issue with it, but please understand that Im in a delicate position here because if this situation DOES end up in court I dont want to damage my case. But if you are patient you WILL see my name in the L & I files pertaining to my unemployment claim. I believe its a good thing to question BOTH sides and form your own opinion JanS, and I fully encourage you to do So. I will end my opinion piece as well for the evening, seeing as Ive had a long day dealing with this. I will state this though, its obvious that somebody’s actions ultimately bankrupted this wonderful establishment
    ,who you decide to believe or blame is entirely up to you. (have a good evening)

  • ChefJoe August 3, 2015 (12:43 am)

    Yeah, if you report something that hasn’t been substantiated, it frequently will be wrong.

    “11:48 AM: What the protesters couldn’t do, the tide apparently did – the Shell No group texted about an hour ago – right around the lowest tide of the day, almost the lowest of the month – that Polar Pioneer was “beached” off Bainbridge Island.”

    • WSB August 3, 2015 (1:02 am)

      Hope there’s somebody up at this hour to high-five you for that one, Joe. Sources including MarineTraffic.com tracking provided enough seemingly correlatory information that we decided to report it with attribution. Foss contended it was a planned stop to switch tugs, which we subsequently reported; I don’t know if #ShellNo has backed away from the “grounding” contention to this day. – TR

  • JoB August 3, 2015 (3:46 am)

    Evergreen…
    in this case there is no house and no mercedes…
    which is what made this all so painful.
    regardless of who hold accountable for failure

  • miws August 3, 2015 (7:31 am)

    WSB, once again you have been showing true journalistic ethics. Something that is sorely lacking in much, or maybe even most other media sources nowadays.

    .

    Thank you for holding to your policy of reporting only the facts that you are able to confirm through the proper sources.

    .

    Mike

  • w.s.mavrick August 3, 2015 (8:19 am)

    small business is getting pushed out of west seattle

  • Cait August 3, 2015 (8:23 am)

    “people not involved personally share things on social media that are unsubstantiated rumors” – seriously Jan? Someone posted info from a legal case that’s readily available to the public on my FB and I have to hear about it in how many different forums? You dragged her through the dirt enough about it and someone here looked it up anyway.

  • Joe Szilagyi August 3, 2015 (9:02 am)

    “The employer kept all of her personal items, her large house and Mercedes, but we were all low-paid and struggled to find other jobs without falling behind our personal bills. Lower wage earners are often living paycheck to paycheck, despite working very hard, and falling behind even one paycheck can create a real struggle.”
    .
    America 101 and the magic of business law.

  • Brandon August 3, 2015 (9:31 am)

    I’m sure it’s frustrating to not know what’s really going on. I’ve not eaten there in months but they had the best biscuits in town. Period. I do not want the place with the best biscuits?and probably the best Amsterdam style waffles too) to close.

    They also appeared, based on their actions surrounding the Michelle Shocked concert to have a moral compass. I hope erythema works out.

  • JanS August 3, 2015 (9:54 am)

    Cait….did I mention names, single anyone out? Did I not say that I, too, was guilty? Did I not say “in both directions”? Please stop taking something personally when something is posted in general. If you don’t agree about unsubstantiated claims, fine, but nothing I said was being directed at you, at anyone you know. There are all sorts of innuendos being made about this drama, in many places…even on here…

    and I’m sorry if you feel offended…

  • CD August 3, 2015 (11:50 am)

    First I want to say to JanS and the others directly involved, this is probably not the best place to get into a “debate” about the issues you’re only going to make it worse and get more uneccesary people involved.
    Also, as a fan of Meanders food and staff and small businesses and WC…I enjoy your food and atmosphere. However the last time I was there to eat the best shrimp and grits ever..!,(just last week) the place looked as if nobody cares. It needs a good cleaning. I frequent the place often and sadly had decided after last visit that I can’t afford 27$ for shrimp grits, coffe, and pancakes for the girl, when the dust and dirt are so highly visible. If this is what we can see, what is the quality of the kitchen, that we can’t see?
    I am a lifer in the restaurant and service industry and don’t mind paying more for a quality experience. That being said, if your employees are not happy, (paid on time!!) the quality of their work will suffer and as we all know s*** rolls down hill… I could tell by the way the place looked something was up…it never used to be so unkempt..
    Please somebody focus on making it clean and getting the place back together before it’s too late, instead of wasting your time checking and throwing comments around back and forth on social media…

  • JanS August 3, 2015 (1:25 pm)

    yes..thanks, CD…

  • Facts August 3, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    “Evergreen…
    in this case there is no house and no mercedes…
    which is what made this all so painful.
    regardless of who hold accountable for failure..”

    No house or Mercedes, but a big fancy boat, right?

    But you already knew that…

  • JoB August 3, 2015 (2:07 pm)

    LOL Facts..
    have you actually seen the big fancy boat which will have to be pulled out of the water this winter and worked on in dry dock to keep it floating?
    .
    have you seen the rickety old pickup that not only functioned as a delivery van for the restaurant but is the only transportation to and from that boat?
    .
    and do you know about the owner’s second job?
    You know the one that is actually financing that boat which hopes will become her permanent home?
    .
    this is the problem with all of those rumors floating around…
    they tend to get more exaggerated with every telling..
    don’t they..

  • JoB August 3, 2015 (2:09 pm)

    CD..
    i was in Meanders this morning.
    I am glad to report that Afton was there and that the needed changes you spoke to have begun.
    I am also happy to report that they seemed to be doing a pretty good business with their limited staff and menu.
    you might want to give it another shot.

  • Facts August 3, 2015 (2:55 pm)

    So, somehow it is OK to bounce employee paychecks, money already earned and owed, while in the process of buying an expensive ‘project’ or whatever it may be?

    Who is the underdog here?

    When people work for you, they deserve to be paid. Period. If you can’t pay them you have no business asking them to show up day after day. Pay is for work already done, so a business owner’s first obligation, regardless of source of funds, is to pay previous obligations, ESPECIALLY WAGES, before “hoping” for a very expensive “permanent home”.

    These aren’t ‘rumors’. Everything is clear as day out there on that newfangled ‘internet’. Pictures and all.

    Spin all you want, but denying workers who likely live paycheck to paycheck what is DUE to them is about as bad as it gets. You can’t pay rent with a rubber paycheck.

    No delicious beignets will change my mind about that.

  • Cait August 3, 2015 (3:35 pm)

    That’s the bottom line for me too Facts – I have a hard time giving my money to a place that isn’t paying the employees who work to put food, however delicious, on my table. No matter the circumstances. I’m more liable to believe the numerous employees who have come forward to say that than I am willing to wait for facts on what the spin might be from the other side – people are really quick to not believe the many who are saying it happened in favor of coming to bat for one individual. That’s enough info for me. I would sooner give my personal money (be it from another job or not) to my employees before doing anything else with it. If you haven’t paid your debts, your money is not yours. Especially with the basic livelihood of other people involved who may be risking the roof over their heads to work for you.

  • j August 3, 2015 (3:41 pm)

    Don’t be so quick to jump down XXX throat. Meanders went from the best to the worst. I was a customer (all 3 locations) until the last visit about 4 months ago. If it was my first visit I would have wrote the same thing as xxx.
    The manager yelled at a customer who asked for the music to be turned down. The whole meal was sub par heightened by the fact that the hashbrowns tasted like someone threw them on the grill raw and cooked then for two minutes.
    Please return the good food and clean environment.
    We miss Meanders!

  • Economics August 3, 2015 (4:03 pm)

    JoB, since you clearly know the owner so well can you explain why a small business owner is out working as a “maritime chef” when her current business is clearly in turmoil? If this is her dream then why isn’t she spending more time ensuring that her business is well managed? I really have enjoyed the food at Meander’s but have been curious about the proprietor’s seriousness about having her own business since she moved from the Junction. The posts about her grand vision of “The Farm”, moving from a tiny location to one that was clearly way over sized, and now this. It just seems like she might be more suited to being a cook then an entrepreneur. Considering how hard it is to make it in the restaurant business, I find the apparent flightiness of Meander’s owner to be an affront to all those that have tried and lost everything chasing their dreams. Maybe I’m wrong, but there are a lot of choices out there and if the owner of a small business isn’t going to take their own business seriously then I will just go eat at Chipotle…

  • i'mcoveredinbees August 3, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    First-hand employee accounts are not rumors.

  • JoB August 3, 2015 (4:47 pm)

    Facts.. No, it isn’t ok to bounce paychecks
    .
    but closing the shop down and making public accusations was a really crappy way to get the paychecks covered .. and an even worse way to audition for the next job
    .
    you know.. that newfangled internet “pictures” and all…
    whoa.. talk about poor planning
    .
    and that trashing the business part.. not the smartest move when getting those paychecks covered depends upon a successful business
    .
    assumptions are terrible things..
    .
    i have watched people too smart for their own good use a story created out of bits and pieces that nobody thinks to verify to justify actions that would appall them otherwise… literally biting their noses off to spite their face.. as my mom would have said.
    .
    i don’t know if you worked there or not but if you did you would be a whole lot smarter investing in making Meanders succeed than doing everything possible to blacken the owner’s name and make the new management fail.
    .
    that’s how those paychecks get covered.
    .
    and on that note, i am done commenting.
    .
    it’s a lucky thing that so many people love Meanders…
    .

  • Cheo August 3, 2015 (5:55 pm)

    @Economics: Well-stated.

  • Economics August 3, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    JoB, when is not covering employees paychecks for work already performed ok? What choices would employees have other than shutting down the business when they aren’t getting paid and the owner is absent? Unless they are getting profit sharing then not paying them is just wrong. I think the owner really owes the public an explanation since only one side seems to be doing the talking. Until that happens, I for one will not spend a dime in the establishment.

  • flimflam August 3, 2015 (9:03 pm)

    ….jans…..

    .
    joB..

    .
    ………


    maybe…just maybe….

    .
    maybe wsb will let me post this heartfelt request that….yes…you stop wit the …ellipses.

    .
    please…..

  • cj August 3, 2015 (9:50 pm)

    I hope they are gonna be ok. Some of the best food ever.

  • JoB August 3, 2015 (10:15 pm)

    flimflam
    …maybe…this is how i speak.. when i think…
    if they bother you.. don’t read them

  • JanS August 3, 2015 (10:35 pm)

    flimflam. What JoB said :)

  • JanS August 3, 2015 (10:37 pm)

    Economics…you are saying that she cheated them on purpose? Are you sure of your facts? Just curious. And, why does the owner owe you an explanation? Would you believe what she says?

  • JanS August 3, 2015 (10:50 pm)

    a serious question here. Many of you state you love Meanders….and then sort of believe whatever anyone says about the owner…that makes it seem that maybe she’s lying to all of us and her employees. Why is that? I really am curious.

    These are employees who were willing to STEAL the till on the last day – that’s something you don’t do if you feel you have a legit gripe. You go to owner, you press charges with L &I if not paid. And they made the decision that the restaurant would close permanently, not the owner. If you owned a business and your employees, for whatever reason, decided to just shut you down while you were out of town, how would you feel? Yet many of you seem to revere these employees word. I am playing devil’s advocate here. I don’t have personal insights into what really happened. Yes, I know the owner. Many people do. And, yes, I really liked some of the employees…some, not all…just like anyone else I had my faves. But..none of us really knows what really happened here, unless it involved you. It is hard to run a restaurant as an absentee owner. You hire a manager, and while you’re gone the business suffers? Is that you lack of oversight? The manager’s lack? The manager has a job, but in the end is not the owner, and really has no skin in the game except to collect a paycheck. It’s not their problem (except lack of employment) if that business suffers to the point of going out of business. Trust is a two way street…and it seems that street got closed in both directions. Sad.

  • Joplin August 3, 2015 (11:06 pm)

    Sorry to bring negativity to a sad situation, but I agree with XXX. We also had a terrible experience at Meanders, despite a serious desire to support a place that were good stewards in the Jade Cafe situation. The food and the customer service were both major deterrents for us. We are a far cry from “foodies” rather big fans of not only local business, but will stand in line for hours for a good hearty meal. Stand in line for hours we did but the attitude definitely didn’t serve the meal to compensate.

    We walked away with the feeling that we sat in on a trend rather than a good serious effort to be a community joint. That’s not what I read in the reviews and despite our experience, I hoped that Meanders would create that. We are an anomaly, people seem to like the place, and if folks find a good vibe, I’ll root for them regardless of our experience.

    So, when I read this story I find it disheartening. I hope the employees, the customers and the community come out ahead in this ugly situation.

  • Seaview August 4, 2015 (12:09 am)

    I’m no MBA, but I have to agree with @Economics. Employees and suppliers get paid first, owner gets paid last. If you can’t make payroll, you make cuts. To staff, to menu, to location. Or shut down. A business is not a charity and as much as we might want to make local businesses some sort of bastion of a great community at the end of the day they need to make a profit. So at some point they might have to get a little “Walmarty”.

    I’m sure there are lots of inspirational stories of employees and owners who believed and had gumption and by just forgoing that one paycheck made the business survive. Yay we saved the town by just having one more bake sale!

    I bet actual statistical data will show that many businesses, especially food service, fail because of poor management of resources. That may be human resources, monetary resources, or customer value resources, but at the end of the day if the employees are willing to steal the till at the end of the shift someone messed up bad.

    Was it the owner who trusted someone to manage her business while she tried to start another endeavor?

    Was it the trusted manager who didn’t keep things up to the owner’s expectations?

    Was it the staff who became so disenfranchised over time that cracks started to show in the façade?

    I can’t say. I only went to Meanderer’s when it was still in the old Jade West building. My experience there was that it was worth the wait. The cheesy grits were to die for literally from a cardiac standpoint and figuratively from a yummy taste standpoint.

    I’m sad that things for a local small business are looking bleak, but how many single instance restaurants actually make it past 15 years?

    Also, just for the fun of it…

  • Economics August 4, 2015 (6:40 am)

    JanS, I’m saying it looks bad and the owner isn’t speaking. Objectively, there is a history of poor business decisions: moving to a location twice as large as your clientele could support and using crowdfunding to try to support the move. There is a history of whimsical thinking: The Farm. And what is this whole thing about a boat? If what JoB says is correct, I can only imagine the cost of dry docking a boat and making repairs. I have done extensive remodeling to my house and know how expensive it is to remodel something that doesn’t have to float on water. Then there is evidence of a lawsuit for failure to pay rent and a mini revolution by the employees. That is a lot of smoke for there to be no fire. This is a small business and they need to scrap against the “big dogs” and they can’t survive with an absentee owner. I do have an MBA and manage a team of people at a Fortune 500 company. You can’t succeed in business without the blood/sweat/tears of the founder. They are the one’s that ultimately have to scrape by and sacrifice to get there dream realized. Often that means having a second job that can pay the bills until the company can start to turn a profit. It is the whole principle of capitalism and risk/reward. The owner accepts all the risk and ultimately is either rewarded or fails in their endeavor. The wage worker is not an entrepreneur. The wage worker doesn’t except the risk in hopes of a grand pay day, they except market rate wages and the security to know that they will be paid for the work they put in. It is a contract between the owner and the employee, it is not charity. The owner should always ensure their employees are paid before they take a dime, that is their responsibility. I have zero tolerance for poor management and ultimately the buck stops with the owner. Even if the blame rests with a “manager”, it is ultimately the owner that is responsible. They are the one’s that hired the team, they are the ones that signed the lease, they are the ones that fund the employees checks. Delegating responsibility doesn’t release you of it. Sorry, but that comes with being “the boss”. Part of capitalism is also the responsibility of the consumer. Whether you believe it or not, the consumer is the one that is in charge. If you don’t like the practices of a business (large or small) you vote with your money. They succeed or fail based on our patronage. This isn’t a court of law, so there is no burden of proof. We speak with our money and I for one will not give any to Meander’s until the owner explains the situation and makes the case for why we should come back.

  • JoB August 4, 2015 (7:56 am)

    Whoa Nelly
    have we all lost sight of our common sense?
    .
    Do we really believe that if a business is not meeting it’s obligations to employees (real or assumed) that the best way to resolve the situation is for the employees to close the business and distribute the till on the last day?
    .
    Does it matter if the business owner… you know the person with the ultimate responsibility… is in house or has left the store with what is assumed to be competent management?
    .
    Do we really think that businesses that operate on a very small margin and struggle financially at times should close because they can’t always meet all of their obligations in a timely manner.
    .
    when did we decide that an owner who takes a second job to help support their business is “off on another project”?
    .
    when did self righteous indignation become the go to response for defending illegal actions?
    .
    that there was a failure at Meanders this summer is evident. But this is not the way to resolve that failure.
    .
    One thing Economics has right is that it is the owner’s ultimate responsibility to keep the store open and to resolve difficulties.
    .
    What i don’t understand is why so many are blaming her for trying to do just that.

  • erico August 4, 2015 (8:25 am)

    JanS – devil’s advocate implies neutrality. You clearly have an agenda, which is fine. It is just hard to stomach you chastising others for spreading rumors while you do the same.

  • urbanfabulous August 4, 2015 (8:26 am)

    Honestly, I’m surprised they even worked one last day. If I don’t get paid, I don’t show up.

  • Economics August 4, 2015 (8:46 am)

    JoB, seriously? Yes, this all falls on the owner. If they hired the person in charge then it is on them. It is 100% on the owner to ensure their employees are paid for work already performed, as is rent. Is whatever they did the “best” way to handle things, I have no idea. The owner needs to take responsibility for how things went down, because ultimately it is on them for allowing it to get to this point. Also, you misunderstood what I said. It is not the owner’s responsibility to keep the business open; it is their responsibility to meet the obligations they accepted when they started a business. Staying in business is a privilege, not a right. These same rules apply to us all, whether it be our mortgage, paying the utility bill, our car loan, whatever. If one doesn’t want the responsibility, then they shouldn’t take it on. Regardless, serious allegations have been leveled and the owner needs to speak up. They only owe an explanation to the extent that it is needed for their business to survive this. All I can say is there are a lot of options, why would I choose to eat at a restaurant with serious moral and ethical questions surrounding it when I could easily support another local restaurant with a proven track record?

  • Def August 4, 2015 (9:20 am)

    A captain goes down with her ship.

  • Tony S August 4, 2015 (9:31 am)

    I’m trying to think of a business covered on the WSBlog with more drama and worse business decisions than the years Meanders has been around.

  • HelperMonkey August 4, 2015 (9:46 am)

    Some people simply shouldn’t run a business. The owner of Meanders has proven over the years and especially now that she’s not cut out for it. I don’t doubt she has the passion, but just having passion doesn’t cut it. You don’t crowdfund for money – you accept that some things (like having to move locations) are a cost of doing business and you step up and handle it (bank loan?) or you go out of business; you treat your employees well and pay them for the work they’ve done and you try not to make your customers violently ill with your exploding homemade fermented katsup. She’s failed all of these. Time to move on. At the very least the owner should be held accountable not only to her employees but also to the people who supported her crowdfund.

  • Charles August 4, 2015 (9:55 am)

    Tried this place twice, once in the “big” and once in the “small” storefront in White Center. While I hate to see a business fail and people lose their means to live, I just don’t see how this business has stayed afloat for as long as it has. That being said, I hope it does survive and that a clean and inviting and profitable business is reborn.

  • sw August 4, 2015 (9:56 am)

    In my opinion, Meander’s was at its best when they were at the Jade West location and Miranda was behind the counter every day. Best biscuits and gravy ANYWHERE. Unfortunately, the lease was lost and with the move to White center, a good measure of the charm was lost and suddenly what was once a quirky awesome food joint has now turned into a “business.” Also, in my opinion, the downfall of Meander’s started with the “corporate coffee incident.” Drawing a line of that sort with your customer base has consequences.

    @Economics – your thinking is sound. However, any time there is criticism of a “beloved neighborhood establishment” on the WSB, it always seems like logic is overrun by emotion.

    Compare the Meander’s situation to the one at Feedback Lounge – Jeff and his partners ultimately decided that they were no longer able to put the time into their business that they felt was needed, so the decision was made to close. They found another party to take over the space, informed their staff and the public. No drama, no cops at the door. An informed business decision that was well communicated and executed.

    Miranda is an awesome person and an even better cook – and I wish her nothing but the best. Running a business is hard, and apparently was not her forte.

  • G August 4, 2015 (9:57 am)

    Reminder to myself: Never start a small business in West Seattle. Can’t think of anything that is more of a deterrent than the constant nitpicking and nanny-like scrutiny. Can’t win. A restaurant opens? Criticism. A restaurant closes? Criticism. Wrong menu. Not enough seating. Get a life people. Seriously.

  • JoB August 4, 2015 (10:05 am)

    Economics..
    i didn’t say it doesn’t fall on the owner when employees aren’t getting paid
    this has clearly landed on the owner
    .
    what i said is that there are far better ways to go about getting compensated for your labor.
    .
    in the case of a struggling businesses.. often the only way for owners to meet their obligations is to keep the business open…
    .
    there are no deep pockets here to pay those wages.
    if there were, this wouldn’t have happened.

    as for those serious allegations…
    they are just that.. allegations..
    no criminal charges have been filed…
    yet here we are..
    dragging allegations through the public mire without any substantiation of actual facts.
    .
    if we examine the facts we find employees allege that their checks bounced, employees posted a sign on the front door announcing that a business that did not belong to them was closing and a representative of theirs posted the intent of the workers to generate support for one last day to meet the owner’s obligations to the employees…
    which is what generated this story
    .
    how were they going to do that?
    distributing the till of a business that does not belong to you is illegal…
    no matter how equitably you think they distributed it
    .
    was this a democratic employee decision?
    or was it the decision of the manager?
    was this decision made with or without conferring with the owner who was employed elsewhere at the time?
    there are a whole lot of allegations but a more than equal number of unanswered questions that otherwise reasonable people seem to be ignoring
    .
    what really happened here?
    .
    and if we are going to talk about responsibilities.. why is there no mention of the responsibilities of the employees…to actually carry out the tasks for which they are being paid (posters have stated that this was no longer happening) and to resolve their differences with employers in a legal fashion?
    .
    walking off the job was their prerogative
    publicly closing the owner’s business, distributing the proceeds from the “last day’s” till and publicly maligning the owner…
    .
    well… no.. not so much
    and certainly not conducive to their maintaining a paycheck
    .
    would you give employees who did that a good reference?
    i don’t think i would..
    but i suspect that this owner might still…
    .
    this is not how we support our local small businesses if we want them to survive.
    .
    and regardless of what any of us might think of the owner.. the “drama” of trying to run an alternative style business has produced some really good food.
    .
    with Afton back in the kitchen and in control it is likely to do so again.
    .

  • datamuse August 4, 2015 (10:12 am)

    G, I think you’ll find that’s the case everywhere, not just West Seattle. Especially where restaurants are concerned.
    .
    My only observation here is that there’s no such thing as an inexpensive boat. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a tiny sailboat or Donald Trump’s yacht, they’re all holes in water that you pour money into.

  • JoB August 4, 2015 (11:33 am)

    datamuse..
    and this is relevant because someone said she took money out of her business to buy a boat
    and that’s why the restaurant failed?
    .
    it couldn’t have been for any one of a number of other reasons.. some stated here by posters?
    .
    i am so over someone said
    .
    and i wish the rest of you would finally figure out that no matter how many times someone tells a story it is still a story unless it is backed with facts.
    .
    everyone says is not a fact

  • Economics August 4, 2015 (12:19 pm)

    JoB, only one side appears to be doing the talking. If the owner is truly the victim here then I think everyone would be happy to hear their side of the story. Until that time, we know that 1) there is active litigation pertaining to rent, 2) the employees were so disenfranchised that they decided to do something drastic, 3) the owner’s is absent, 4) somehow a boat may or may not be involved and its sea-worthiness has been called into question. The first 3 raise enough questions to give plausibility to the employee claims; the 4th is just because it’s fun to talk about boats…

  • AJP August 4, 2015 (1:51 pm)

    I’m just here for the comments…but anyway I do agree with Economics. I think it boils down to an excellent cook with bad business sense. I had forgotten about the crowd-funding for a new location.

  • JoB August 4, 2015 (2:22 pm)

    Economics..
    1) no.. we don’t know there is active litigation pertaining to rent..
    in fact.. the case did not come up on the docket which generally means it has been settled between the parties.. which WSB reported
    and WSB reported being told the rent is current
    2) yes. the employees definitely did do something drastic.. and possibly illegal.
    according to a post on Meander’s facebook page friday and saturday’s deposits are missing..
    which is why the sheriff was called on sunday before the till could be cashed out.
    Since the owner was at sea at the time, she didn’t empty the till
    3) Yes, the owner is missing.
    She works a second job as a cook on an excursion boat in the summer. this is her second year doing so.
    4) and no.. that isn’t the boat that has been called into question…
    but it is the job that likely paid for the boat in question..
    may i introduce 5
    5)the same facebook page states that wages are current and that management is working to fund the next payroll in spite of the missing receipts
    .
    but hey.. who wants to let a few minor inconsistencies in the story get in the way of a good witch hunt?
    .
    ” If the owner is truly the victim here then I think everyone would be happy to hear their side of the story.”
    I would laugh but this really is a tragedy wrapped in comic paper..
    .
    do carry on

  • urbanfabulous August 4, 2015 (3:26 pm)

    King County Superior Court cause no. 15-2-15752-3 filed 6/29/15 does not say dismissed JoB.

    • WSB August 4, 2015 (4:03 pm)

      The case has not been dismissed; there are no new documents in the file since the ones I downloaded to write about it on Sunday night (see earlier comment plus last part of the story above). Unlawful-detainer cases generally are not closed until there’s been a certain period of inactivity (inactivity so far as the court is concerned – the court does not have to be notified if the parties have reached out-of-court agreement), and negotiations are not generally documented in the court files, as the court is just there to help the landlord if they indeed need somebody evicted. There has NOT been a writ of restitution filed, which, if this was being actively pursued, would have had to have followed the potential-hearing date last month.

  • Rumbles August 4, 2015 (3:50 pm)

    Honestly, I’m not sure which is more amusing — the massive amount of drama that has surrounded this business for years, or the collection of “experts” at running a business that constantly comment on it.

    Type on, I’m just sitting here waiting for a bus… LOL!

  • Facts August 4, 2015 (4:11 pm)

    Just two things..

    Economics, thanks for weighing in. You said everything that was on my mind and then some, and much more eloquently and thoroughly.

    Helpermonkey, it was the exploding fermented catsup that made me steer clear of this joint. I thought I was the only one who wanted to say “c’mon, can I just get somem Heinz here?” Corporate ketchup has a solid place in our society.

    Pictures of the boat and discussion of earnest money / closing can be seen by anyone on the business owner’s Bragbook, oh wait, I mean Facebook page. If you have earnest money for a boat, that should go to wages owed before anything else.

    I will never set foot in there again.

    A check is representative of money owed. If the bank won’t cash it I don’t see anything wrong with cashing it out of the till of the business on which it was drawn. That is not theft in my eyes; it is cutting out the middle man :)

  • Cait August 4, 2015 (4:20 pm)

    OK am I the only one who doesn’t blame the employees AT ALL for taking the till on the last day? They were up front about it and that’s what brought me in. They did a wonderful job and deserved to be compensated. I went in ready to spend money knowing full well what they were doing and why. I have no doubt in my mind they weren’t paid – like Economics said, where there’s smoke (and a lot of it well and legally documented) there’s almost always fire.

  • JoB August 4, 2015 (4:52 pm)

    you guys do realize that whether you blame the employees for taking money out of the till that it is illegal… don’t you?
    because if you try that with someone less willing to let it go… it’s highly likely you will go to jail
    .
    and on that note that really is my last post
    because there is no sense in talking with people who really think that their grudge against a someone is justification for advocating theft…
    because that’s what that is.. garden variety theft.

  • Facts August 4, 2015 (5:26 pm)

    Agree with you 100% Cait.

    What else were they supposed to do? Take the money to the bank and watch it disappear into the land of rubber checks? Then head home to face late rent, late fees, NSF fees of their own, and possible eventual eviction? Through NO fault of their own? But (according to some people here) they should still show up to ‘volunteer’ for work, because that is the only way to keep the business running in hopes of eventually getting what is DUE to them?

    I would have done exactly as they did if I were in their shoes and never looked back.

  • datamuse August 4, 2015 (6:37 pm)

    and this is relevant because someone said she took money out of her business to buy a boat
    and that’s why the restaurant failed?

    .
    Beats me. I’ll leave that to those involved to figure out.

  • Seola Jo August 4, 2015 (8:27 pm)

    Karma can certainly suck!

  • Cheo August 4, 2015 (9:24 pm)

    It sounds like you have the situation well in hand, Afton. I hope you do. And I hope that you’re the steady presence who guides this small business to its future finest hours.

  • G August 5, 2015 (9:21 am)

    Datamuse,

    Maybe. I like to cook and eat at home so maybe I’m biased. But there is a fine, fine line between between being neighborly and being nosy and I think, generally speaking, this is line that West Seattle has trouble defining. But I agree business = boat = hole = throw money into.

  • T Rex August 5, 2015 (2:18 pm)

    BRAGBOOK!!!! I love that statement.

  • Afton Larsen August 5, 2015 (7:36 pm)

    Hello all! Just wanted to let everyone who has been following this story know that Meanders kitchen will be reopening tomorrow at 9:00 and staying open until 3:00. We will be open all weekend and most likely into Monday. You can expect business as usual by next Thursday. Thank you for all the warm wishes! -Afton Larsen

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