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Restaurant group owes IRS $2.2 Million

A Lancaster, Pennsylvania restaurant company is facing mounting tax bills, which have grown to more than $2 million.

The Keares Restaurant Group now has $2.2 million in federal tax liens for unpaid taxes, penalties and interest on several businesses, some that have been closed for more than 10 years.

The recently filed liens include:

$932,680 against Checkers Restaurant and Pub, a Mulberry Street restaurant that the Keares group operated until 1997, under names including Checkers and the Mulberry Park Cafe. (A restaurant at that site now operates under different ownership.)

$696,475 against Doc Holliday’s Steakhouse, a Harrisburg Pike restaurant that closed in 2009.

$308,248 against Harrisburg Food and Beverage Inc./Lancaster Brewing Company in Harrisburg.

Harrisburg Food and Beverage operated the former Doc Holliday’s in Harrisburg and now operates a Lancaster Brewing Company restaurant at that location, on Eisenhower Boulevard. That restaurant is not affiliated with the Lancaster Brewing Co. in Lancaster, but has a licensing agreement with it.

Those liens, all filed in late December, join $265,978 in liens filed last fall against Keares Overlook, which operates Barny’s Grill, on Granite Run Drive in the Overlook Community Campus.

Peter Keares, president of Keares Restaurant Group, said that most of the company’s liens are for unpaid taxes on businesses that have long been closed.

“The corporation is still active,” he said, referring to Checkers, “but there are no accounts. It’s closed.”

He said the company did not “shutter” the corporation, closing it down, but will do that now.

The bulk of the liens, he said, are interest and penalties, not the actual unpaid taxes.

“The IRS has punitive taxes and interest,” he said. “It’s well over 100 percent penalties and interest.”

The company is negotiating a settlement with the IRS, he said, which could end up being a fraction of the liens.

“The bulk of that is what goes away when you negotiate a settlement,” he said.

The IRS does sometimes either reduce or abate penalties, said David Stewart, an IRS spokesman in Newark, Del. Each case is different, he said.

The Keares Restaurant Group had some struggles in 2008 and 2009 when the economy slowed, Keares acknowledged.

In the meantime, the restaurant company has been paying all of its taxes on its present restaurants since 2011, he said, and working to keep its locations open and its workers employed.

In addition to Barny’s, the company also operates Gibraltar, on Harrisburg Pike.


Copyright 2013 – Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, Pa.