Leave The Debt, Take The Cannoli
So you own a struggling restaurant with a liquor license but you’re barely making payroll and the banks don’t want to give you any money to fix up the joint because restaurants are a notoriously bad bet. Hearing of your troubles, the local swarthy gentleman of means offers to make you a loan at the going street rate and, since your options are down to zero, you accept the offer and cross your fingers and hope for the best. With money in hand you make a few changes and business picks up with the addition of some new customers who happen to be business associates of your investor. Of course, being good buddies, their meals and drinks are frequently comped, but that’s the price of doing, and staying, in business.
After a while business kind of levels out and, combined with the freebies you’re handing out on an almost nightly basis, you find yourself unable to keep up with your bills and your loan payments. Your erstwhile benefactor then offers to come in as a silent partner (with a slight reduction in your weekly payments), and he places a few management consultants on the payroll to help run things more efficiently. Take care of business. You know. Next thing you know your bills with the liquor distributor start to rise into the atmosphere but with no corresponding increase in actual inventory, as cases of booze are being sold off at discount to friends of friends and don’t worry, we got it all covered. We’re cool. Same thing for expensive meats and anything else that can be skimmed off for a quick off-the-books buck. Pretty soon your creditors come knocking on the door looking to get paid for all the bills your silent partner and his consultants have run up, but, poof they’re gone along with the alcohol and whatever else is not tied down; and now you’re saddled with debt you previously couldn’t have dreamed of running up. Your restaurant is shuttered, the equipment auctioned off for pennies on the dollar, your employees are out of work and you’re ruined.
Outside of the fact that they both wear nice Italian suits, the only difference between your street benefactors and Bain Capital is the extra two or three zeros added to the end of the debt amount and the guys at Bain (Biff and Skippy and Mitt) all have last names that don’t end with an ‘i’ or an ‘o’…