Note to struggling businesses: Best to pay your web designer first

Lots of people mourned when Portland, Ore. coffee shop and brightly lit, family-friendly cafe, Sydney's, announced it was closing this Friday due to losing its lease. "Irreconcilable differences," the owner said. Why? Everyone asked. It was so popular with parents whose children attended the Montessori school across the street, reporters for the local Oregonian newspaper, and the sort of stylish folk on laptops who live in the trendy industrial-chic neighborhoods nearby. David Vanadia was sad, too, but for more complex reasons. As web contractor for the cafe, he'd not been paid.

As the last day of business approached and the cafe had failed to find a new location, Vanadia became more and more concerned. He emailed the cafe's manager, who assured him -- having spoken with the owner -- he would be paid. After the suggestion of trade, Vanadia offered to take the coffee shop's PA system in lieu of payment; its worth was a fraction of what he was owed, "but I'd have something," he said. After a few more days without reply to his offer, he changed the web site to a simple letter explaining that he was owed money by the cafe's management.