Earlier this month we posted a report from Eater about the controversy surrounding Jack the Horse’s online fundraiser, which centered on how the funds were being used. While originally understood to be going directly to the restaurant’s employees, the money was also used by owners Tim and Micki Oltmans to pay off expenses associated with the restaurant.
The Oltmans recently started a second fundraising campaign, explaining their decisions and working with GoFundMe to ensure that all money that comes in from the campaign will be sent directly to laid-off staff.
We believed helping our staff included raising funds AND reinstating them in their jobs. In our haste to launch the GoFundMe page, we were not clear on the latter. The donors’ immediate and generous donations gave us hope that reopening was more of a surety than just a possibility. Believing this trend would continue we determined we would need to pay certain necessary expenses such as Liability Insurance (required by our lease), internet connection, telephone service, and burglar alarm if we had any hope of reopening JtH. Since the business bank account was depleted covering our payroll and the $2000 for employee Metro card purchases, we proceeded to pay some of the necessary expenses using a portion of the donation transfers. We have provided the GFM team with verification of these expenses.
In the first drive we began distributing $200 to each of our employees on March 30th and completed distributions on April 15th. Transfers from GoFundMe to us did not begin until April 7th , one week after distributions commenced, and continued until June 2nd.
Because donations had stopped coming in and reopening was no longer an option, we decided we would make a final appeal using a large database of email addresses. In this new appeal we have promised the donations would only be used to support our former employees. The GoFundMe team has agreed that all donations from the second appeal would be directed to our staff.
The GFM support team has restricted donations and transfers until they have confidence the current funds will be distributed as promised and have asked us to advise you that if you are unsure of our integrity you have the option of requesting a refund. There is currently $2169 waiting to be distributed to our staff and another $2725 on hold at GoFundMe. This amounts to nearly $4900 we are anxious to distribute.
We regret that our lack of foresight caused such a colossal misunderstanding. It is our sincere hope that you believe our intentions have always been true and honest.
Thank You for your support,
Tim & Micki, Jack the Horse Tavern
The campaign has a goal of $50,000 and has so far raised $16,000, dating back to the original March fundraiser.