Restaurant, food truck owners upset with consultant; two sue

CHARLOTTE — Entrepreneurs with dreams of starting restaurants and food trucks are upset with a woman they hired to help get things off the ground.

Edmond McMiller is trying to open a restaurant at Carolina Place Mall called Kream. He hired Charlene Steele to help with the details.

Others know Steele by her business names: We Prep Charlotte; Food Truck Queen; and F&C Repair and Sales.

“She was basically the one-stop shop from what I was told,” McMiller said.

McMiller admits they didn’t have a written contract.

He says she did some things such as fix the floors and clean, but she didn’t help with other things like helping him get permits.

Then he says she gave him the runaround.

“She was paid around $61,000,” McMiller said. Steele shared paperwork with Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke which reflects the same dollar figure.

“Very, very disheartening,” he said. “She sells people a dream in terms of what she’s able to do and then she doesn’t get the job done.”

Others also complained to Action 9 about Steele.

One person emailed saying she paid Steele to build a food truck, that weeks turned into months, and that she “ended up having to spend an extra $15,000 to finish the truck.” Steele says it did take longer than expected because she got hurt on the job and had an accident with some of the equipment. She says she was close to finishing, but that the customer didn’t want to wait.

Stoogenke also found two lawsuits filed against Steele.

One claims she paid Steele more than $19,000 to build a food trailer, but that Steele never delivered it.

Steele says she did the work, but the plaintiff never followed through with paperwork to pick it up.

The other plaintiff was a company that said it paid Steele $65,000 for a food truck and that Steele took it back to make repairs but didn’t do the work or give it back. Steele says both sides had a falling out, she thought they had parted ways, and she was in the process of selling the trailer when the company asked for it back.

Stoogenke says you should always have a written contract, and make sure it’s specific, especially when it comes to what’s going to be done and by what date. Also, pay as little as you can upfront — you may want to pay in phases, as each step is accomplished.

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