Bogus answering machine message hurts local business

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Trying to hurt a person is awful, but also trying to hurt their business certainly makes things way worse.

That's why Capital City BBQ's owner wants people to know the restaurant is, in fact, open--despite a voicemail message telling the public it's not.

The restaurant has been open at its location in Lansing since 2015, even catching the attention of Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It has quickly become a staple in the community, but there seems to be someone who is trying to take that away.

If you call Capital City BBQ's old number in Lansing, this is what you'll hear:

"Happy Holidays from Capital City BBQ. Due to the Holidays, we will be taking an extended leave until March 1st. We look forward to your business and seeing you after March 1. Have a happy holiday, thank you."

But that message isn't true. Owner Linh Lee told News 10 she had a personal relationship with the person who recorded that message, and once it went south, he tried to sabotage the business. Since the answering machine's message was changed, business has slowed dramatically.

"Thursday, Friday, Saturday...we had no phone calls. Because all customers assumed I am closed until March," Lee said. "The store is like, dead."

Lee loves her restaurant and often works 12 or 13 hour days. She works hard making her family's recipes, which is why this shot at the business stung.

"To take something like this away from me, it takes away my spirit," she said.

Workers there were also surprised the person would stoop so low.

"Its a family business and to see someone do that is just devastating to us. Especially knowing that person for so long...it was just weird. Like why? Why?" sous chef Henry Cleveland said.

"This business was her dream and to see him just repeatedly sabotage it...it's really heartbreaking," cashier Jenifer Donahue added.

Lee was unable to get the number back, so the business was forced to change it. They now have a new one, and Lee plans to move forward, serving up her BBQ and Vietnamese specialties.

"I will not give up as long as customers continue supporting me. We will be open and I will continue as much as I can."

The restaurant's new number is (517) 721-1500. You can also text orders to (517) 919-0101.

Lee also wanted to thank the community for its support.

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