Owner vows restaurant to return after shut for unpaid taxes

GREENFIELD — The owner of Riley House Restaurant, who was ordered by the state to close Tuesday, declares the eatery will reopen its doors.

Kimberly Lawrence, who has operated the restaurant on Main Street just west on downtown Greenfield for 35 years, said she has been in regular contact with the Indiana Department of Revenue to resolve the ongoing issue with unpaid taxes that led to the restaurant’s closure this week.

The Department of Revenue forced Lawrence to shutter her restaurant at 1020 W. Main St. on Tuesday amid reports she was more than $350,000 behind in taxes and hadn’t renewed a state license required to operate since 2012.

Lawrence said she received a call Tuesday morning that a court order to close the restaurant was forthcoming.

The notice did not come as a surprise, according to Lawrence, who said she had been in regular contact with state officials to resolve the issue.

“I was working with (the Department of Revenue),” she said. “I dealt with them on a daily basis; I never ignored it.”

The Department of Revenue filed a restraining order Tuesday in Hancock County Superior Court 1 prohibiting Lawrence from doing business until further notice. Court documents cite $353,000 in unpaid taxes dating back to 2006.

Lawrence downplayed the amount, saying, “It’s not a lot when you deal with the volume I do.”

Lawrence admits she fell behind on her taxes when the economy tanked and said she has been working to catch up ever since.

“We struggled and just got behind like a lot of American people do,” she said. “I’m not the only bird in the nest.”

Lawrence expressed confidence the Department of Revenue, whose lawsuit notes it is attempting to collect on 138 tax warrants, will work with her to open the restaurant again.

“I serve good food, and I give 10 jobs to local people, and they don’t want them to be without a job, so they are working with us,” she said. “We’ll get this resolved, and we’ll reopen.”

Court documents state Lawrence’s Register Retail Merchant Certificate was revoked in 2012, leaving her “not legally allowed to conduct retail business activities within the state of Indiana.”

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday in Superior Court 1.

Coming up

A hearing in the case against Riley House Restaurant is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday in Hancock County Superior Court 1. The hearing is open to the public.

Noelle Steele is editor of the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3232 or nsteele@greenfieldreporter.com.