Owner of shut-down Daphne restaurants plans to reopen

Owner of Cousin Vinny's, Guido's said tax bills paid

By Guy Busby, Government Editor, guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 9/7/22

DAPHNE – The owner of two popular downtown restaurants closed in Daphne for failure to pay sales taxes said he has paid the bill and penalties and interests and hopes to reopen soon.

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Owner of shut-down Daphne restaurants plans to reopen

Owner of Cousin Vinny's, Guido's said tax bills paid

Posted

DAPHNE – The owner of two popular downtown restaurants closed in Daphne for failure to pay sales taxes said he has paid the bill and penalties and interests and hopes to reopen soon.

Guido’s and Cousin Vinny’s on Main Street were closed by a court order dated Aug. 17. The order stated by Conlon Properties Inc., doing business as Cousin Vinny’s had failed to pay $33,850.66 in sales taxes.

Business owner Chris Conlon said Wednesday, Aug. 31 that he has paid the back taxes and other penalties and fees.

“The whole thing should be, at this point in time, dismissed,” Conlon said. “That’s all been paid.”

He said he still owes two months of sales taxes due since the judgement was issued, but those fees were not part of the original lawsuit.

“What my attorney is attempting to do is to have the whole the whole judgment vacated. opened the doors, because I can't pay a damn thing if I can't open the doors,” Conlon said. “In other words, if I'm not selling food, I'm wasting food. It's slowly dying in the coolers as we speak. Clearly, the only way that that's going to be eradicated is to get the doors open.”

Ron Cink, Baldwin County budget director and interim administrator said this is the first time that he knows of that Baldwin County has closed a business over the failure to pay sales taxes.

“We have never closed a business in the time I have been here which is going on 17 years.  Frankly I don’t think we ever have previously,” Cink said.

He said county officials tried to work with the business owners to get the taxes paid including setting up plans for payments under the county’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

“We exhaust every effort possible to work with the taxpayer which includes payment plans which we offer by law.” Cink said. “The payment plans were executed and not fulfilled by the taxpayer.”

The county filed a lawsuit against the business in 2021 and has been working to get the taxes paid for more than a year and a half, Cink said.

“It is costly for us to take a taxpayer to court, so we try to avoid doing so with the exception of the most onerous ones,” Cink said.

Cink said that while sales tax money is collected by a business, the revenue is a public trust and does not belong to the company or the owner. He said public trust money cannot be canceled by bankruptcy since the money never belonged to the business.

“We will lien the owners’ personal assets including their house and any property they own in an effort to collect the tax,” Cink said.

Cink said about 80% of sales tax is distributed for education in Baldwin County, going to school systems and Coastal Alabama Community College.

“We collect the majority of this for education by law and frankly if we were not to make every effort to collect, we could be held liable for negligence by the education boards and sued in court, Cink said. “I would not ever like to see a case like that develop but in that unlikely event the county commissioners could be held personally liable.by us to education in the county, i.e. all boards of education and Coastal.”

Conlon said he is ready to pay the taxes if he can get the business reopened.

“All he’s got to do is hand me the keys,” Conlon said of the judge. “That’s it and we can get reopened and 27 people that don't have a job right now, for the last week, can have a job and they can make money. I can actually make money to pay back the back taxes that are due. And I've already been assessed penalties and interest on taxes.”

Guido's, Cousin Vinny's, taxes, Baldwin County

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