Sub shop owner behind on taxes

Published 8:38 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The city has started court proceedings against a local restaurant franchise owner who, according to the treasurer’s office, owes about $104,000 in taxes to the city.

John King, who owns Firehouse Subs locations on North Main Street and in Harbour View, owes the meals taxes for both locations from May 2013 to the present, said Andrew Tasch, compliance manager in the city treasurer’s office.

After trying payment plans and bank liens, the treasurer’s office took the “last resort” of filing criminal charges, for which the warrants were served July 5.

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“I know he’s been trying, because we’ve been working with him for quite some time, but the taxes are continuing to grow delinquent,” Tasch said. “It got to the point I have to protect the city’s interests.”

Suffolk restaurateurs are required to charge a 6.5-percent tax on food and drinks served in their establishments. They hold that tax until the 20th of every month, when they are required to pay the amount due from the prior month.

But, Tasch said, restaurant owners sometimes fall into the habit of using the money to operate the store and get behind on paying the city.

John King’s wife Pam King, a co-owner of the franchises, said 2013 was a tough year for the business, and they had to close their Chesapeake location.

“We are recovering from closing one of our stores and are restructuring,” Pam King wrote in an emailed statement. “Coming out of a recession makes the demand for financial assistance higher. Higher demand slows the financial process. We have been in continuous communication with the city of Suffolk and the city has been more than patient working with us, but we have fallen victim to that slow financial process and we ran out of time with the city.”

Pam King wrote they are proud of their small business and prioritized their employees throughout the process.

“We were put into a position where we had to pick and choose what bills were going to get paid, as many of us are doing,” she said. “I’m proud of the fact that we are part of the small business family. We will resolve this matter quickly and plan to continue to be a part of the Suffolk Business District.”