MONTICELLO — Customers hoping to get lunch Wednesday at Abe’s Pizza downtown found themselves out of luck as the business was uncharacteristically closed.
Around noon, an official from the DOR posted an orange warning sign on the two doors — the North Main and West Marion entrances — indicating the restaurant was in violation of Indiana Code 6-2.5-9-2. The code states it is a “failure to register or renew registration; transaction after revocation or suspension of certificate; offense.”
The code further states, “A retail merchant who makes a retail transaction without having applied for or obtained a registered retail merchant’s certificate or a renewal of a registered retail merchant’s certificate or after the retail merchant’s certificate has been revoked or suspended by the department commits a Class A misdemeanor.”
According to Michelle Cain, director of external communications for the DOR office in Indianapolis, Abe’s Pizza was issued the posting because of outstanding tax liabilities.
“While the business can remain open, it cannot conduct any transactions at this time,” she said.
Cain added the DOR could not disclose the exact nature of the tax liability, but according to the restaurant’s co-owner, Marcia Kyburz, it was because they allegedly didn’t have a retail merchants certificate she said they do possess.
“It’s right there on the wall,” she told the HJ on Wednesday afternoon. “(The DOR representative) didn’t even look at it.”
It isn’t the first time Marcia and her husband, Chuck, have had issues with the DOR.
“Those who remember a few years back, the DOR marched in and posted our business closed because in the move across the street I had neglected to apply for a change of address,” Marcia posted Wednesday on Abe’s Pizza’s Facebook page. “We paid huge fines before the commissioner of the DOR stepped in and said the entire case was mishandled.”
According to a Herald Journal story published Sept. 14, 2015, the restaurant closed for 10 days due to an “unforeseen permit violation.” The owners were hammered with a hefty fine at the time because, according to the story, the local DOR representative informed the Kyburzes they were “operating with an invalid permit.”
According to the story, the business relocated from across the street of its present location five years prior (2010), which “invalidated their business permit and required them to request a renewal.” Marcia told the HJ in 2015 and again Thursday she was unaware of the requirement.
After sending letters to then-Gov. Mike Pence, then-President Barack Obama and even talk-show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, the story states the Kyburzes received “an apologetic call” from then-DOR commissioner Andrew Kossack.
“Since then, Chuck and I have been paying the balance of the fine that we couldn’t afford. This has gone on for years and I could never get an answer to where the huge cash payments had gone to, so I did all that was left to do. I hired an attorney,” the Facebook post reads.
Marcia said the balance continues to grow, despite payments that should dwindle the amount over time, and DOR officials haven’t been helpful in giving her an answer as to why.
“It’s like a snowball going downhill and it doesn’t stop,” she said.
The Facebook post did not specify who their attorney was at the time, or who will represent the business this time.
“Since then, the DOR has done everything possible to get me to void the contract with the attorney, including, I assume, this latest event. Trust in me … our attorney was in contact with the DOR before the agent left our store and we will be up and running as soon as possible,” the post continues. “It’s sad that they can have so much unsupervised power over people’s livelihoods. Your thoughts and prayers will be appreciated.”
According to its website, Abe’s Pizza has been in business in Monticello for the past 37 years. The restaurant is usually open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, except Sunday.