Yesterday I wrote a blog about the shocking video being shared on the Betty Boop Diner's Facebook page. The page is currently managed by former employee Donna Doherty Burns. The owner of the establishment, Teresa Soto, does not have access to the page and as such, is unable to remove or respond to any of the accusations presented by Ms. Burns. It's important to note Ms. Burns admittedly has access to all of Betty Boop's social media accounts including Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Google. (I'm not sure if she can claim ownership if she does not own the business, however that is for Ms. Soto and her representatives to determine.)
"I also wanna point out to you that I own and operate all social media pages not just this Facebook page she has two other Facebook pages that she can’t get into." - Ms. Burns
Yesterday I reached out to Ms. Soto to see if she would be interested in responding. She was, and I'm grateful she has taken the time to correspond with me yesterday and today. Click here to view the blog describing Ms. Burns' accusations.
The first thing Ms. Soto (owner of Betty Boop Diner) would like the community to know is that the restaurant is indeed open at 115 Phillip Street in Albany. If you visit the Facebook page Ms. Burns is currently managing, the page states the business is permanently closed. It is not closed and the correct phone number is (+1) 518-729-5945.
You may be asking yourself why you would want to eat there after what has been posted by Ms. Burns, but it's important for readers (and eaters) to know this conflict goes much deeper than a "dirty" restaurant. Last night I spoke to a few people who have worked in the local restaurant industry for years, and the reality is that old buildings are hard to maintain and for some owners, it's a constant battle with landlords to get things fixed appropriately.
"This building is 150 years old and my landlord is taking care of it with Mike's Pest Control." - Ms. Soto
Does it excuse any restaurant from an infestation? Of course not, and Ms. Soto was just recently visited by the Department of Health (DOH) and the restaurant was cleared. As of 10:15am this morning, Ms. Soto has spoken with the DOH regarding the progress that has been made and they are satisfied. The DOH is returning next Friday to inspect again at Ms. Soto's request.
This conflict is personal. Very personal.
When I was invited to 'like' the Facebook page Ms. Burns is managing, what did not sit well with me were all of the very personal attacks on Ms. Soto. This goes far beyond a failed business relationship, and I am not comfortable getting into all of those accusations, however I will address the ones Ms. Burns calls out about the business itself, with Ms. Soto's permission for responding. As a woman, I will not address the personal attacks on family or appearance. That is beyond unacceptable and I let both parties know I will adhere to that for my own standards and that of Girl Gone Smart.
Ms. Burns claims she has never been paid and was supposed to be a partner, but according to Ms. Soto, "She never wanted to get paid, she was never a partner, and she always said she could help me because she had other jobs." The two women had a very deep friendship that seems to have collapsed in the wake of allegations of theft, specifically Ms. Soto's purse was stolen several times and inaccurate reporting of how many customers were in the diner at any given time. So more and more often, the books didn't quite add up. When Ms. Soto made Ms. Burns aware she was going to put cameras in the diner, things went south.
Aside from business financials, there is clear communication between the two women of personal financial entanglements. I have read text messages showing there have been money issues for a long time. From my perspective, Ms. Soto was generous with her personal funds in helping Ms. Burns through some tough situations. I've viewed receipts and bills paid by Ms. Soto on behalf of Ms. Burns - and several are still outstanding. On the other hand, it's obvious Ms. Burns worked without payment - but was it voluntary or not? I think the court system should be the judge of that and certainly not me.
While I want to stay away from the personal accusations being made outside of the business, I have to give my own thoughts on this. Regardless of what happened or is happening within the friendship - attacking a business is serious. Taking over a business's social media accounts and writing such very personal things about a person and their family is not okay. I have really tried to stay objective and be fair in presenting this story, but I'm finding it difficult. Ms. Burns has a very public outlet to disparage Ms. Soto, her business, and her family, while Ms. Soto has no outlet to do the same in defending herself. With help from family and friends, she is trying to remedy this. The quote below from Ms. Soto is why this story and situation is becoming even more personal:
"I don't like confrontation. She knows this about me, and it actually makes me so sick. I have diverticulitis already, and any kind of stress causes an attack which can literally kill me if I don't keep it under control, so this is definitely affecting my health too. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t function, and it’s so bad it’s affecting my children, my personal life, my business, everything."
I'm going to end this blog here because with everything I'm being sent, I could go on for pages and pages. I want to personally thank both women for opening up to me, being honest and gracious, and allowing me into the situation. I'm very grateful and regardless of any outcome, I wish health and happiness to both of you. I also wish success to Betty Boop Diner. In my research, I found a lot of very happy customers so when all is resolved, may success be the outcome for a local Albany establishment.
If you would like to comment on this blog, I encourage you to do so directly within the comments section of this blog. While it will be shared on the Girl Gone Smart Facebook page, I will not allow people to be specifically tagged or insulted by anyone. Please be respectful of all readers and this forum. Again - thank you.