Government shutdown forces closure of The Independent in Uptown

0 Days to Shutdown.jpg
A shutdown could mean some restaurants run out of alcohol.
[[UPDATE: The Independent has decided to temporarily close.]]

Last night, KSTP ran a piece on the dozens of bars and restaurants that aren't allowed to buy alcohol because they're delinquent on sales tax payments, and, if the government shuts down, won't be able to rectify the situation until the government restarts. The general tone of the story, from interviews with restaurant owners, employees, and patrons, placed blame for the restaurant's woes on deadlocked legislators. Leah McLean lamented that "One popular Uptown bar may even have to close its doors if a budget deal isn't reached."

Our lawmakers can be criticized for a lot of things, but the bar regular's comment--"I hope it's not on their conscience that a lot of people are losing a lot of money"--is a little misguided. Never did the KSTP story suggest that the restaurants take responsibility for getting themselves on the list in the first place, or mention that they could have gotten off the list by simply paying their outstanding tax bill by June 28. (Obviously the restaurant business isn't easy, but how is this situation so different, than, say, not paying your electric bill?)

The Hot Dish followed up with Robyn Dwyer, director of the collection division of the Minnesota Department of Revenue, to get a more thorough explanation of the situation and find out which restaurants' taps may soon run dry.

Dwyer says the state also collects wage withholdings and such from restaurants, but that most businesses find themselves on the Liquor Posting list due to unpaid sales taxes. Tax delinquents have seen their liquor supplies cut off since 1986, legislation was enacted to give the state a little leverage in collection.

Dwyer explains that, in the case of monthly filers, all sales tax collected from customers in the previous month is due on the 20th of the following month. If the business doesn't pay, they're notified that they will be on the next posting of the list on the 15th of each month, which is distributed to all of Minnesota's liquor wholesalers and distributors letting them know they are not allowed to bring product to those bars and restaurants.

So who's on the current list?


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31 comments
JJAG
JJAG

i,ve read all the comments that people have left and basically it's a bunch of bullshit the bottom line is all these resteraunts  profit one way or another so that the owners can live the life of the rich and famous a owner that cares about his franchise only has a couple responsibility's pay your bills every month and pay your fuckin taxes do this you will have no problem's I feel sorry for the employees that work 40 hour's a week at this company the cook's that sweat there ass off to put out good food each day it's a slap in the face  the owner james is to blame yeah i know his sorry ass the independent needs to close for good it's nothing but a piece of shit franchise that needs a fuckin makeover everything in there needs to go in the garbage the inspectors should have been shut that bitch down for good half the time jane fat ass fucking up your check the restrooms smell like piss every day and night  TO THE EMPLOYEES THIS SHOULD BE A WAKE UP CALL THIS TYPE OF  FRANCHISE  IS NOT WORTH REPRESENTING YOU CANNOT FEED YOUR FAMILY AND PAY YOUR BILLS ON TIME  YOU WORKED 2 WEEKS TO GET  A CHECK  THAT YOU HAVE NOT SEEN  BELIVE THIS TAXES AIN'T ALL THESE MOTHERFUCKERS AIN'T PAYING

sobercycle
sobercycle

The "List" comes out every week and despite numerous restaurants being on it they still get supplies. It really isn't uncommon. Neither is a business being on the list for six months. If the shutdown didn't close em then they would have otherwise.

the hack
the hack

What people often don't grasp is that restaurants and bars don't go on this list because they want to or are run by bad people, generally they do it because they are almost broke and don't have the money. The recession put a major hurt on the finances of the restaurant industry. The recession may be "over" but a lot of places haven't yet made back all the money they lost during it, which makes them financially fragile. Banks generally don't want to loan to mom and pop restaurants so when restauranteurs hit a slow stretch they often have to decide whether to bounce payroll or pay their taxes late.

Honestly
Honestly

Didn't Al Capone teach anybody?

Pay your damn taxes!

Cook_jim
Cook_jim

Micheal Mattson -- my problem with the title wasn't a typo, it was that City Pages swallowed the Independent's story hook, line, & sinker.  The state government shutdown isn't what's forcing the Indy to close, it's their failure to pay their taxes.  The link on the home page has now been re-titled to be more accurate, but the title on the article after clicking on it is still the bogus Indy story.

WhoisCeelo
WhoisCeelo

There are dozens of bars and restaurants serving liquor that collect and pay up.  The delinquent list is not very large, most of them on there are nightclubs.  The State has nothing to do with this other than poor businessmen who run the Indie.  EITHER WAY THE INDIE OWES OVER $80,000 IN BACK TAXES SINCE 2010, that they haven't gone to jail is hilarious.  They're a bad business and you should not give them your money.  

Brandyn
Brandyn

Rachel is pretty defensiveabout people pointing her mistakes, lol.  Highly unprofessional.  Ifshe knew "sold reporting takes time, a conceptthat instant-gratification internet readers seem to grasp", it would havebeen a good fact to include instead of speculating on illegal business practice.

question
question

The Independent has not been able to legally buy alcohol for nearly 8 months but they have been serving it without any pause. Why haven't any government officials busted them for this?

Brettacampbell
Brettacampbell

sure, pay your sales tax on time and this won't happen to your business in the first place.  but delinquent sales tax payments and a government shutdown are two separate issues.  i think the rules should be changed so that businesses can operate as usual during shutdowns and just be able to pay the sum of what they would've been paying later when the department of revenue is back in business, then pick up where they left off.

feel sorry for the state if you like; just realize it doesn't care whether you feel sorry for it, it just wants your money.

Cook_Jim
Cook_Jim

I wonder who has been illegally supplying the Independent with booze? There's your scoop, KSTP.

Elsa
Elsa

Thanks to Rachel for highlighting what some people don't seem to get: if the Independent had paid their bills, the state shutdown would not affect them this way. It's pretty pathetic to blame state government for something that is clearly your own fault.

Jessica
Jessica

Completely agree that the state government should not be blamed if these businesses are delinquent in paying their taxes. Thought the KSTP story was very misguided.

Johnny
Johnny

One Big Positive that could come out of this is that people (finally) realize exactly how much of an impediment to business and life-in-general The State is.  Start working on local-government alternatives & replacements for the Revenue Drain that is Saint Paul.

Guy
Guy

why couldn't it be Cowboy Slim's?

WhoisCeelo
WhoisCeelo

You really can't blame "the economy" for The Independent owing taxes for over 6 months.  You know why, because when you collect "tax" from your customers you are suppose to separate that and pay it out regardless if your bottom line is red.  If you are co-mingling your collected tax into your operating funds, wow, either your accountant should be fired or you're committing fraud.

Regardless, there are dozens of bars in Minneapolis, a dozen within vicinity of the Indie, and none of them are on the list. Indie gives a bad name to bar owners.

Guest
Guest

We do understand that. That's not what the issue is. The problem is that they BLAMED it on the shutdown... Like they had the money in hand but couldn't get it to them.

Brandyn
Brandyn

Exactly. I was not speaking of a typo. If there was one I missed it :)

Elsa
Elsa

They're a bad business and a pretty shitty bar, for that matter. I don't think there's a tear in anyone's beer over this one, whether it was obtained legally or not.

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

Ok, now you just need to point out where Rachel was speculating on illegal business practice.  It's not in the post.  It's not in her comments.

What mistakes has she made to defend?

Dude asked if she was gonna work on figuring out how they were serving alcohol for 8 months without legally being able to buy from distributors.  Do you and Cook_jim believe that this is something you can just Google and find the answer to?  Or make one phone call and expect the owners to 'fess up?

Eric
Eric

It sounds like they have been paying their bills, and it is their taxes that they have not been paying.  When you pay your bills, you receive goods and services.  When the wholesalers send them their liquor, they pay for it.  The taxes are just protection money, so that men with guns do not come and shut them down.

Lothar
Lothar

No, I'm going to start Working on People Who capitalize random Words without Any reason.

the hack
the hack

As far as the Independent goes that is true, I think blaming the shutdown was spin on their part and this was probably comming anyway. I was talking about the other restaurants and the issue in general.

Brandyn
Brandyn

"the Independent, which has been on the list since November of last year. It either stockpiled a lot of inventory last winter, or sales have been reeeally slow, or..."

"RE: the headline and such, a blog error messed up the updated post with the news of the Independent's closure. I'm fixing it right now."

Cook_jim
Cook_jim

Eric, read the article again. If your business is on the tax delinquency list, it is illegal for suppliers to deliver alcohol to your business, even if you pay the supplier.  So the scoop here, that KSTP and Rachel Hutton don't seem to want to investigate, is how did the Indy stay flush with booze despite being on the list. The title of the article is still misleading too, I wonder if Rachel or City Pages are buddies with the Indy owners. . . .

Joe the plumber
Joe the plumber

The place I used to work was on that list for 12 months. The rules of the game of "business" is to stay alive and prosper.

 Tell me you don't want to equate a smaller business with a conglomerate on standards.( I like small business and want it to prosper...always) but especially  in these times!

 It seems obvious that the Independent made either bad decisions financially...or they (giving them the benefit of the doubt) were caught up in the  financial struggle, as a lot of businesses have experienced as of late in this bad economy.

Either way, I ain't mad at 'em.   

curioso
curioso

Guest, better check your own posts for typos before ripping on others.

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

Well, I didn't go to no fancy journalism school, so I guess I was not aware of the fact that Internet blog comments constitute "reporting"...

Guest
Guest

Michael, "a typo" isn't a big deal.  But she had 3 typo's in the first paragraph of her comment.  Everything she writes is full of typos and grammar errors.  I guess she is too busy tracking down this story to take the extra 15 seconds it takes to proof read her comments.  Yep, "sold reporting".

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

Firstly, that quote is not speculation.  In fact, it defies the definition of speculation.  She makes absolutely NO claims as to why they may have been able to survive.  And the question she raises is very valid, as the commenter pointed out (and subsequently harangued her for not having the answer to).

Secondly, OMG!  There was a typo in the headline!  Where's my pitchfork!?!?

Rachel Hutton
Rachel Hutton

Cook_jim, I saw the KSTP piece around noon yesterday, go the info from the state and wrote the post. CP is working on answering the question you posted--sold reporting takes time, a concept that instant-gratification internet readers seem to grasp.

Also as for your cheap shot about me being "buddies" with the Independent's owners, as a critic, I'm obliged, ethically, to disclose any sort of conflict of interest I might have with any source and beholden to recuse myself from reviewing the establishment of anyone with whom I have a personal friendship.

RE: the headline and such, a blog error messed up the updated post with the news of the Independent's closure. I'm fixing it right now.

Jen
Jen

If she is friends with the owners she did them a major disservice.   

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