Update: Fat City received news today from Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue, that Jefferson's Restaurant in Lawrence will not re-open and the assets will be sold. Read more after the original Fat City post:
The story of a popular hot-wings-and-burgers joint in Lawrence, Kansas -- Jefferson's Restaurant -- closing and having its assets seized by the Kansas Department of Revenue this week was considered important enough to make the evening news aired on KCTV Channel 5 on Tuesday night.
Jefferson's Restaurant is a franchise operation based in Franklin, Tennessee, with nine locations, primarily in the South. Calls by Fat City to the corporate office were not returned. The Lawrence franchisee, Jason Franklin, told the Journal-World that the unpaid tax issue -- which apparently dates back to 2009 -- is a "misunderstanding" and he said he expected the restaurant to reopen either today or tomorrow. The restaurant's phone is still being answered by a machine and is currently unable to take messages.
The 11-year-old Jefferson's Restaurant is located on Massachussetts, in the primary entertainment district in Lawrence, and is famous for the tradition of customers pinning dollar bills to the walls. Those bills are considered assets and are included in the state of Kansas seizure of the restaurant's assets.
The Lawrence Journal-World's online story about
the restaurant's troubles has already generated 122 comments from
readers, running the gamut from bittersweet ("That place was special to
me ...") to downright hostile ("Horrible Sysco food horrible service and
looks like bad management. Where will the fratastic fools go now?").
As of this afternoon, the spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Revenue, Jeannine Koranda, had not heard about the fate of Jefferson's Restaurant: "I don't know if and when it might happen. Businesses that have been closed by the DOR have been known to come up with the money and are allowed to reopen. But these are handled on a case-by-case basis. We do try to work with businesses in matters like these. We don't want to go in and shut down businesses, but this is a case where the restaurant was collecting state sales tax from customers and not turning it over to the state of Kansas."
Most of the comments to the LJW story seem to be supportive of Jefferson's Restaurant and its owner, but not all of them. One of the angrier recent comments: "Bottom line, this guy stole money from his patrons. It was not his to keep or use to cover his butt when business was bad."
Update: Jeannine Koranda tells Fat City that Jefferson's Restaurant -- a popular saloon and casual dining venue in Lawrence, will "stay closed and the assets will be sold at public auction." The company handling the upcoming auction is United Country and details can be found by clicking here.
As for all those dollar bills on the walls of the restaurant?
"The landlord has agreed to write a check in that amount," Koranda says, "and the money will stay in place."