Now we shall fast forward. After two and a half years, the work had taken a physical toll on me; long hours, hard work and some political battles with the landlords made me decide to put the business up for sale.
The landlords (the pharmacists, who leased the building from their landlords) decided to expand the lunch counter, turning it into a Blimpy's style restaurant with double the seating and twice the space. I did not agree to the change, knowing that twice the space during the off-season only meant twice the overhead. I had leased the lunch counter and all of its equipment, and my lease had not expired on the space my restaurant occupied.
The pharmacists decided to go ahead and expand. The lunch counter was closed down and torn apart; this resulted in lost wages and revenue for us, with no compensation. Once the new space was functional, I realized that it had lost its intimate appeal. I turned in a letter to the pharmacist landlords terminating my contract.
I consulted a few attorney friends on the island and showed them my contract. They unanimously told me that since the space I had leased no longer existed, the contract was null and void and I could not be sued for anything. They also suggested that all communication with the pharmacists be in writing and that any verbal communication had witnesses.
Next came the soda battle. The pharmacists, who had no ownership over the business, ordered a large stock of soda syrups for the soda fountain, and then hit us with the bill. I informed them in writing that they had no right to make this order since they were not the owners of the business. Again, they threatened to sue if the money was not paid by a certain deadline.
Again I consulted my attorney friends. They agreed that this was a smokescreen and that we did not have to honor the agreement.
In retaliation, I sat down and went through every single day we were open, for two and a half years. I calculated how much coffee the pharmacists had drunk without paying for it. I calculated how much coffee and food the construction workers had consumed when we were closed for construction/relocation without our permission. They had simply helped themselves and there was no money left and no offer to pay for what was not theirs to take. This constituted theft, and I mentioned this in the next detailed letter to the pharmacists.
When I had finished my calculations, it turned out that the pharmacists owed me over $1,000, after having deducted the soda order they had made. Where their letters were aggressive and threatening, I made no threats, I simply stated the facts and presented the numbers, offering politely that they could opt to make weekly payments until they balance they owed me was paid.
This type of creative thinking was necessary due to the fact that I could not afford a lawyer but was lucky enough to know a few, as they were regular clientele. I had long known that documentation was important, and over the two and a half year period I documented every item. I was glad I had, because I needed all the ammunition I could get in this situation.
In the end, the pharmacists took away some equipment that I had