Former Famous Dave’s located on Capital Circle, North East, was forced to close its doors in June after it lost its license from the state of Florida. The sign that was placed on the closed restaurant stated that it was closed for remodeling. The city of Tallahassee ordered the franchise owner to remove the signage in July. The franchise owner, Jeffrey Merimee, owes the city approximately 37,000 for utilities. He was arrested yesterday for failure to pay state sales taxes estimated to be $167,000. He posted a $100,000 dollar bond today and was released from the Leon County Jail. He lives in Kentucky and made the trip to Tallahassee yesterday to turn himself in the Leon County authorities.
Trouble began in April 2011 for the restaurant after the liquor license was revoked for failure to pay both utilities and sales taxes. Employees and vendors began to feel the pinch with late payments and in one case, a $3000 check for lawn service bounced. This vendor began to protest in front of the restaurant and finally received a check that did not bounce. A cook still has not received $700 due for work performed in June-July 2011. Famous Dave’s corporate office revoked the franchise after the restaurant received a bad health inspection report and wanted to close for a week to get rid of a mice problem.
Merimee told reporters that he was waiting for his BP claim to be paid for loss of revenue concerning his Pensacola restaurant. It is believed that Merimee also owns two other restaurants in Florida. It is believed that he was using his Tallahassee revenues to support the other three restaurants that supposedly had just opened or remodeled. If the Tallahassee location owed $167,000 in state sales taxes from June 2010 to April 2011 or eleven months, the revenues had to be in excess of 2.3 million dollars. That is not too shabby for a restaurant. The parking lot at Famous Dave’s was always packed in the evenings, especially Fridays through the week-end. Business did drop off tremenously after the liquor license was revoked. Liquor sales account for 25-30% of the overall revenues.
State sales tax violations are more serious than income taxes because it is monies paid by the customer in the form of a “sales tax” and held by the business to be turned over to the state at certain specific times of the year. Failure to turn over the tax is paramount to “stealing”. There is absolutely no excuse for not turning that money collected over to the state and Merimee should go directly to jail and not pass “go”. For all of you readers holding Famous Dave’s gift certificates need to find an out-of-state franchise to cash it in.