bill20the20butcher20wallingford
J’Amy Owens and her meat

Not what you expect to see taped in the window, when what you want is a couple of grass-fed pork chops for dinner: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are closed until further notice.” With that notice, first reported Tuesday morning by the Wallyhood blog, Bill the Butcher shuttered all six of its Seattle shops.

Eater.com swiftly followed by posting an anonymous message that claimed employees and suppliers hadn’t been paid since September 1st. BTB’s normally active social media campaign went silent. But there had been signs even before then. Sunny Kobe Cook, the founder of Sleep Country USA, posted on her personal blog that BTB’s chief executive, J’Amy Owens, had stiffed her on a $50,000 personal loan; the Seattle Times had reprinted Cook’s frustrated posts last week. Lots of dirty linen, the kind that doesn’t usually get aired, but BTB–very rare for such a small enterprise–was publicly traded: the information had to be public. And this scrutiny allows a rare glimpse into what happens when an under-capitalized business hits the rocks.