Hero stories about entrepreneurs are never true

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

To my mind, the problem with the article is the nostalgia, and the desire to turn ordinary business people into community heroes. If you engage in this particular vice, you should expect to be disappointed.

The criticism of the article is worth reading:

But Alexander does not talk to Stanich’s wife, who—as the Willamette Week reported on Wednesday—had managed the restaurant for 19 years before being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. He does not mention that she and Stanich divorced a few years ago, or that he strangled her in front of their teenaged son in 2014. Notably absent from the story about Stanich’s closure, too, are the legal troubles he’s endured over the years, which suggest not a man grappling with fame but an alcoholic with a violent history towards the women in his life: the probation lapses for drinking, the refusal to part with the assets he promised during his separation from his wife, the fact that, according to his wife’s attorney, he claimed she defrauded him by lying about her illness. (According to the Week, she provided proof from her doctor that her cancer was real.)

…Six months after the restaurant owner was held in contempt of court for refusing to pay his wife a long-promised $25,324, a restaurant critic visited town, and named Stanich’s and his burgers the absolute best. The omission of this parallel story, which Stanich has continued to insist had nothing to do with the closure of his restaurant, suggests either sloppy journalistic practice or a preference for believing, at face value, the kinds of stories men tell each other about themselves.

…Again, we don’t know exactly what Stanich told Alexander, as he hasn’t provided that information. It’s possible that Stanich told a wrenching story—the kind of story that maybe Alexander is inclined to believe, narrating a tale of a “successful man’s” struggle and redemption. Maybe he mentioned his alcoholism and domestic history as the “type of serious thing that can happen with any family,” either of which may have caused another reporter to pause. Maybe he told Alexander about losing his wife and the manager of his restaurant, without mentioning the part where he put his hands around her throat. And maybe Alexander did have a few doubts, as he talked to this person who, in his words, “swirls around you with a never-ending stream of catchphrases and small canned stories and facts,” a person he had spent the better part of a year transforming into his own personal metaphor for the responsibility great men have towards each other.

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