I’ve been trying to keep quiet until my legal action is over, but I can’t sit back anymore and listen/read this distorted information again and again. My patience with dealing with the questions,calls, emails,texts, praise, and condolences about the lounge has reached the tipping point. Although the story has many layers, I haven’t found the time or will to sit down and tell the whole story from my perspective. That’s not gonna happen right now either. However I am going to discuss one of the major beefs I have on how this story has been told (or perhaps “sold”) to you. First off, although I may not feel every aspect of the development that has taken over the area, I want to make it clear that we knew that the development was coming as early as 2005 and is even the main reason why we expanded to grab AVA in the first place. This Idea that gentrification is pushing the lounge out is pure NONSENSE and has been used to excuse a decade of poor business practices. You do not leave an area like East Liberty with the history we had built there over some noise complaints. FACT: we were WAITING for the development. That is why we had lease options to 2023. We wanted to be around to benefit after all the years of sacrifice and struggle. this is about majority ownership being burnt out(?) and/or not knowing how to turn a profit in a business that has been around for 13 years. The fact that no profit could be turned while being arguably one of the best known venues in the city in one of the most up and coming areas of the county is even a harder pill to swallow. Bottom Line - There is no REASON to be leaving now. It makes absolutely no business sense (theme here?). Never did , Never will. It certainly shouldn’t be leaving for the community’s sake either, but thats a given.
They say that if a business can make it past the first 5 years its on its way to staying buoyant. So why then did we borrow, year after year after year and continue to do so now? Well…. sometimes there was a very good reason for it but certainly not always. The problem, more often than not, was that borrowed money was used to pay past debt and/or not properly used to invest in the business to make it stronger. This cycle of borrowing is one of the main issues with the lounge’s financial success or lack there of. You can’t just keep putting more water in the tub if your drain leaks. Ownership (self included at times) lacked the discipline or knowledge base to fix those leaks and over time you may run out of water.
Ask yourself why they are hitting you up instead of a bank or even some other high risk lending source? A. That well is dry. Ask yourself why management wants to move AVA abruptly after just telling you and the newspapers that it just signed a 3 year lease a couple of months ago? Long history of the old zig zag decision making and planning often zigging again before any execution takes place (and even when it did , that still couldn’t stop a new zig or zag idea). You cannot be successful if you spend time planning and then never execute the plan. Your plans cannot continue to change ALL the time. The new Plan doesn’t account for all the lost hours you spent working on the old one. Again, this eventually catches up with you. (one day I’ll tell you about an argument I lost about peoples start times. I was told we had to keep the way-to-early start times to give the employees time to be late- you can’t win like that!!!)
Although I do have personal issues with this entire mess, That is not the reason in which i am speaking out today. This is about business. This is about my name being attached to an entity that is now spiraling out of control. This is about my name being attached to certain decisions that I had NO INPUT in making and disagree with whole heartedly. This is about my name still being attached as a personal guarantour to over $86,000 in business loans that someone is telling new investors and newspapers that they have taken on that debt. (if only the city paper and Pittsburgh Post Gazzette would have bothered to pick up the phone and called Bridgeway Capitol or ELDI for confirmation of that fact).
Look, the memories are what they are. It was a good run with an unnecessary ending. I’m not saying I had every answer or don’t share in some of the failures as well as the successes of the lounge. I just can’t sit back and let people continue to get played the same way i did. At this point i don’t expect to see any money any time soon or ever, but i can’t sit by and let history continue to be rewritten. I’m proud of being a part of something that meant so much to so many. BELIEVE ME, watching it play out like this is way harder for me than it is for you. I mean that, but don’t want it to come off as a pissing contest. We all suffer from this loss. Period.
If after reading this, you would still like to make a donation to a For Profit business operating 13 years. Well, THANK YOU, your most likely helping me pay down my debt.
Live and Learn and ask to see the books, Tim
ps. I don’t live in California (thanks city paper!) NP: Castles Made of Sand - Jimi