Controversy and Closure at Jack the Horse

Eater reports that the staff at Jack the Horse are furious at the owners for using GoFundMe donations to pay bills instead giving the money to workers unemployed when the restaurant closed as part of the Covid-19 shut-down. Update: several former JtH employees have commented on the Eater piece, calling it unfair and not representative of their feelings about the owners or their actions.

The original GoFundMe campaign was featured on this blog in March, including a quote from the website:

We know you missed us during the past weeks but sadly we have had to close our restaurant doors until further notice. During this time we are raising money to support the staff at Jack the Horse who will be out of work due to COVID-19.

According to Eater, $200 was disbursed to each employee after donations reached $5,000; as funds continued to accumulate, owners Tim and Micki Oltmans stopped communicating with the staff. After receiving an e-mail from employees the Oltmans responded to say that the donations had gone “toward other bills,” including vendor payments and insurance bills.

“We never said that the funds were exclusively for the employees,” Oltmans tells Eater. According to Oltmans and his wife, they felt that the statement of purpose on the GoFundMe page — even though “it wasn’t a hundred percent clear,” Oltmans says — allowed for them to use the donations for both staff support and reopening efforts.

Get the rest of this dismaying story at Eater

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  • Arch Stanton

    I really liked JTH but seriously what a load of BS from the owners.

  • Love Laner

    Good riddance if that’s the way they treat their staff.

  • SongBirdNYC

    It looks like the GoFundMe comments have been edited. There was a comment by person claiming to be a former staff member that implored others not to donate because the funds weren’t actually going to the employees. It is mysteriously absent now.

  • Mary Kim

    There are now at least 3 comments to the Eater article from current and former employees vehemently defending Tim and Micki and calling the article unfair and one-sided.

    I’ll just add that in reading this blog’s post about the GoFundMe, the blog (ok, I) wrote, ” Let’s save this neighborhood institution. Any amount helps.” At the time, I must have read the GoFundMe pitch as financial help for the furloughed employees and for the restaurant to stay afloat so that it can reopen when possible. I don’t exactly remember my thinking. But Tim does defend himself by saying that while the GoFundMe pitch may not have been 100% clear, that was the intent. Just a thought.

  • Emmett Burke

    So very disappointing that Tim decided to destroy the memory of a great neighborhood joint by screwing his employees. (And despite the comments on the Eater piece, it is true that he did this… Ignore the defenders who were not there at the end.)

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I’m told that “Dog bites man” is the classic Non-news story.

    Reprehensible (and immoral) as the owner’s actions were, there are extra pressures when one has decided to exit a field and to sell one’s business. Part of it almost surely was “There’s nothing that those employees will ever do for me in the future,” but vendors are crucial references in connection with selling a restaurant. PLus, there will be lawsuits aplenty as time goes by about unpaid invoices. “Doing the right thing” obviously never crossed Tim’s mind!

    Very few chefs are saints – if they steer clear of gluttony, pride brings them down … and when one’s wife is the money person, this is SO predictable – however revolting.

  • Knight

    What did the owners say in the GoFundMe request? I haven’t seen it. If they said that they would use the money to pay outstanding bills, they should pay bills. If they said that the money was for employees, it should go to employees. As long as the people who contributed knew where their money was going, the rest should be irrelevant. IMHO!