A number of people have recently written letters of support for
Marilyn and Liam Racine, proprietors of the Stoney Acre Grill,
to demonstrate how important this enterprise has become to the
Beaver Island community. Consequently some of the customers have
become aware of the disputation in which the Racines have become
Two and a half years ago the Racines' offer for the Old Rectory
was rebuffed, so they shifted their focus to the Stoney Acres.
Marilyn's brother and his wife were running a successful restaurant
in Grand Rapids, and wanted to expand their enterprise. So the
two couples, friends, went in together to buy Stoney. The idea
was that Liam and Marilyn would be paid for their day-to-day work,
and the two couples would split the profits, when and if they
Things began to go wrong almost at the start. Credit card receipts
automatically sent to the operating fund account failed to arrive,
so starting in August of 2002, Liam and Marilyn and the staff
were rarely paid on time, and payments for supplies had to go
on their burgeoning credit cards. Investigating how this could
have happened led to some surprising discoveries that turned the
two couples into combatants. Mediation was attempted, but the
results were not accepted. A second round of mediation, involving
three neutral attorneys to do a case evaluation, produced
an equally unacceptable settlement proposal. So the matter began
the time-consuming and expensive uphill climb into court.
A trial set for early May was postponed. New discovery motions
were made, and detectives and attorneys hired. On June 14th another
trial date will be set, probably for September. Acrimony has peaked,
reducing the chances of a settlement.
By keeping their eyes on the goal of turning Stoney into a fine,
International-style bistro, the Racines have managed to struggle
along without reimbursement for their efforts, somehow finding
fresh energy each time they seemed about to be overcome by exhaustion.
We all hope for a quick resolution; both couples have better
things to do than perpetuate an energy-consuming dispute whose
costs are such that neither can really hope to ever win.
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