Remembering our business venture that began in 1980 and we sold ten years later. It was an amazing roller coaster ride and an eye opener for a small business operator. During the ten years we were audited twice, first by the Provincial tax dept and later the feds. Its interesting to note the provincial tax collector claimed we owed $10,000, that was quickly thrown out as nonsense. I once asked why they had decided to audit us and was told the following by the auditor. Well, I drive by here every morning on my way to work and your shop is always very busy. Some way to decide an audit was necessary, don’t you think. I suggested he drive by at 9 or 10 am and see how busy we are then. Anyway the audit came to nothing. However the Federal audit was far more sneaky and underhanded and they claimed we owed taxes on $100,000. I learned much later that an anonymous letter had been sent to Revenue Canada saying we had two sets of books. We didn’t of course, but it took me the best part of a year to disprove their claim. I’d kept meticulous records of all our transactions, cheque stubs, receipts etc. I slowly went through their claims list deleting them one by one with prove of purchase etc. I will just give you one example of how they came up with the outrageous totals. Even though the agent had all our home heating oil bills for the year, she decided to just calculate the cost. She took January and February as the average for the year end total. It was over three times higher than what we’d actually paid. When I asked why she had not used June and July?I just received a blank response I wont go into the other attempts to make us look guilty but there were many. What actually happened was when the anonymous letter was received this agent called for a three month undercover surveillance of the shop and of us in general.I would have thought even a half educated fool could tell that running a little eight stool and five table cafe could make such monies as the tax dept (agent) apparently thought? Next came the audit and the ridiculous total of $100,000 in outstanding taxes. I asked how we were selected for the audit and was told it is just a random thing and our name just came up. Not much honesty from our public servants eh! As the year dragged on I became more and more frustrated with this agent and finally demand to see her supervisor, this was when I was told of the anonymous letter. I went through each purchase amount on their list with the supervisor and it quickly became clear they did not have a case. What I believe happened is this, the agent saw us as a easy mark that would give her career a much needed boost. When she realized she had authorized the very expensive costs of surveillance and nothing had been found, she knew she would look bad. Hence the ridiculous $100,000 total she came up with. No one at Revenue Canada ever admitted to this when I suggested it, but strangely they were suddenly very helpful and cooperative. Its water under the bridge now but was a very unpleasant ordeal at the time. It was one of the main reasons we decided to sell in 1990. Two audits in ten years did not make being in business worth while. We employed approximately 15 staff, so in our small way we believed we were helping the economy. Apart from the above we did enjoy much of our time running the cafe and we were indeed very popular in the area. Our soup and sandwiches became the choice of many groups around the city. Our fame even spread to the cover of the Aug/Sept 1984 issue of Canadian Geographic magazine. The Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, while passing by acknowledged us with a wave and a smile. I only mention the last item for my good friend Robby, he once was part of the Mulroney team. I did actually vote for him,(Brian) after he stated he was planing to built at least two nuclear submarines for the Canadian Navy. It never happened which is more the pity, because the money spent since then on used submarines could have easily bought two nuclear boats that would still be in operation today. We had many interesting girls working at the coffee shop over the years and they came from far and wide, two from Fogo Island in fact!!!They were very popular with the customers because of their accents!!!. One would ask a customer if he wanted his muffin eated, the usual reply was no, I’ll eat it myself. Dropping the H was a common part of the Fogo lingo—eated-Heated. All in all we enjoyed running the coffee shop but if you think it was easy money you should think again. If a member of staff decided to give a customer a free pop/coffee/piece of pie etc we needed to sell ten more just to make up the loss. It was hard work and long hours and at the end of the day we still had a mortgage, car payments and all the other usual expenses.
God Bless and keep reading