On Tuesday, we noted that Bill the Butcher was reported by the Seattle Times to be cash-poor, and that the nominal Bill—one William Von Schneidau, the company's founder along with marketing consultant J'Amy Owens—had filed a lawsuit against the company.
Back in the day, Von Schneidau and Owens were lovers and business partners who didn't care to label their purportedly local/organic meat; now some labeling has happened, and their romance is no more. You may recall this memorable quote:
"William's the steak and I'm the sizzle in our partnership... I can't tell you what to buy and how to cook it," Owens says, "but William can, all the livelong day."
King County Court filings show that Von Schneidau is suing Bill the Butcher, Inc. and J’Amy Owens et al. for breach of contract, wrongful termination, and “willfully making illegal securities filings in connection with the Company's becoming a publicly traded company.”
Also noted: “In the past 52 weeks, the Company’s stock has gone from a high of $2.25 per share to its price as of May 13, 2011 of $0.42 per share,” which is the defendants’ fault, alleges Von Schneidau's case. Right now, the stock stands at $0.41 per share.
Von Schneidau is seeking damages of $3,660,000.
Oh, and J’Amy Owens’ lawyers filed an Intent to Withdraw—that is, they are quitting being her lawyers—last week.
After the jump: J'Amy Owens responds. And, UPDATE: a statement from William Von Schneidau.
On the phone today, Owens said that Von Schneidau "left the company last November on his own will, and hasn’t been in communication."
What about his claim of wrongful termination?
"He wasn’t terminated," Owens said. "He took a leave of absence and never came back. It's just not true, unfortunately... I understand he’s starting a new company and a butcher shop at the Pike Place Market. I'm really confused by his actions. I wish him well."
As for his claim that the company made illegal securities filings?
"Patently false. Ridiculous," Owens said. "All the stock that the insiders have is restricted. Every share of it. None of it can be sold or traded."
How's Owens feeling about the financial state and future of Bill the Butcher?
"I’m feeling great about it," she said. "The Seattle Times was really quite rugged on us. That was last quarter—we’ve raised money this quarter... We built the commissary and started three shops—last quarter was rough. It was very expensive. We’re a small start-up—what start-up isn’t strapped for cash?"
Owens said Bill the Butcher has 40 employees who get a paycheck every two weeks, and that they've sold three million dollars of grass-fed meats "from our state" in seven quarters.
"We’re really really doing well and we’re going to make it," she said.
And her lawyers' Intent to Withdraw?
"We’re working that out right now... We're probably just changing law firms. We have two, so this doesn't mean we’re without a law firm, just reduced from two to one."
A Seattle restaurant/retail insider did some cocktail-napkin math on those last-quarter figures:
According to the Seattle Times, just under $500,000 in sales for six stores in the most recent quarter = $80 K per store in 90 days, well under $1,000 per store per day. In other words, half what a hotdog cart would pull in. (If average sale is, say, $15, and the store is open 10 hours a day, that's one customer/sale every 10 minutes, not enough to keep the lights on, let alone buy decent product.)
William Von Schneidau
has yet to return a call for comment. says via phone, "The facts of the filing are accurate," and that he's (sensibly) not going to comment further at this time.
And today's bonus quote from J'Amy Owens' website:
I have been hired by the best retailers and consumer goods manufacturers and made millions for them, by intuiting what their customers wanted, and serving up solutions that never seem like reheated leftovers. My work is passionate, magical, non-linear, and deliberate. I serve the consumer, and create enough purpose in the selling proposition to compel loyalty. I bungee jump, I take risks, and I deliver. I am not neutral. Like my dad always liked to say—the only thing in the middle of the road are white stripes and the dead armadillos. I now know he was talking about me.