Thursday, October 29, 2009

Argonaut Closed for Taxes


Here's a statement from Joe Englert:


Argonaut was closed down tonight because of a serious miscommunication with DC Tax and Revenue.
A few weeks back, a DC Tax and Revenue officer phoned me and told me that three of my establishments owed tens of thousands of in back Sales and Use Taxes.

Because two of the establishments bank locally, I was quickly able to track down every one of the checks from periods said to be owed and cleared those accounts.

Argo banks at Bank of America. These payments were much harder to trace because of it being such a large bureacracy. We knew we owed the District money and had a payment plan worked out with them. But the total they wanted on demand, however, was very high and very wrong.

Even though we kept in daily contact with the Department and even though we were told repeatedly that we were working in compliance, they came any way and shut us down. Even more frustrating, I had told a revenue officer I was more than happy to pay off the real balance, I just didn't want to pay again for periods they claimed were never taken care of. To put it in perspective, my businesses will pay about $3 million dollars in taxes this year. I owed less than 1% of this amount, an amount in contention and got closed down any way.

To make a long story short, instead of dickering with a payment plan, we are going to pay our taxes in full tomorrow. And though I do not like how the closure went down, ultimately, it is 100% my fault. I apologize to the employees, customers and neighbors of Argonaut. Very embarassing. Thanks


I was also told by a trustworthy Argonaut representative that the Argonaut paid its taxes in the form of a cashier's check.


joe mama said...

The District should force the Argo to stay shuttered until they figure out how to execute brunch service without making their customers wait for over an hour to get their orders.

Tom A. said...

Nice job Joe- to come forward before the gossip mill runs wild!

Class act as always.

Dolemite said...

Long live the Argo!!

Anonymous said...

hey joe mama,

go f yourself, prick. if you don't like the service, go somewhere else. no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to go to the argo. a-holes like you should run down to safeway and get a dozen eggs and some oj and knock yourself out with brunch at home.

this pisses me off because last night was pub quiz night. joe may take the blame, but this just goes to show how business un-friendly place dc is. instead of working with the entrepreneurs who make this city great (or at least try to), these tax lackeys make things worse.

can't wait until argo re-opens!

Anonymous said...

I was also told by a trustworthy Argonaut representative that the Argonaut paid its taxes in the form of a cashier's check.

Oh boy, why am I not surprised?

It is on such unshakable foundations as these that DC government has built DC's enduring nationwide reputation as scumball capital of the Universe.

Anonymous said...

Wow, first NAPA, then Martini Lounge, and now Argonaut (even if only temporary). Are we running into some problems on our beloved H St?

Abbey Place said...


Sorry to hear about the troubles the tax office is giving you. We're looking forward to being able to come back and support you all once you are reopened. Hmm, brunch sounds good. . .

Anonymous said...

Looks like the City is trying to shake down the H street businesses.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about your tax situtation.I hope that they are resloved soon.Thanks for all that you have contributed to H street.

5th street

Anonymous said...

Joe Englert said:

Wow, thanks for being so nice! I am weeping as I write this. It is like we have grown up together as a neighborhood. I am very sad I let so many people down. Again, I am truly grateful for the loyalty.

Growth and life in general is not a continuim. There isn't a constant trajectory upward. Bumps occur and bumps are overcome. We shall survive.

Also, the District Representatives were really professional and nice. It is not fair to blame them. They were doing a very hard job. And we worked things out today with them. Really good people.

Anonymous said...

This is another shining example that DC gov. employees lack the basic skills and judgment to perform their jobs. Enforcement actions are within the discretion of the agency. Yet here, OTR uses the approach that treats DC residents and taxpayers at the enemy, and not the public they are entrusted to serve.

7th and H said...

Not at all surprising. DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) is an inept organization at best. We missed out on a half year's worth of homestead deduction when we moved here in 2004 because OTR kept "losing" the application. Even when sent via certified mail showing they received it - still wouldnt accept responsibility. WTF?

By the way, very nicely handled Joe.

Oh, one other thing...Geaux Saints!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Can't believe that DC employees are getting lambasted for doing their job. I love the Argo, but they need to pay their taxes, and it looks like they did.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know, Joe. We look forward to returning to the Argo as soon as it reopens. Do we have a sense for how soon that might be?

In the meantime, folks should be sure to add Souk (1208 H St) to the list of places to patronize. It's off to a good start offering good, inexpensive Middle Eastern food for dine in or carry out. It seems like a great addition to the neighborhood.

Charles said...

10:02, you are a class act ... anonymously of course. Maybe you just needed a drink.

On another note, the website for the theaters at Union Station says they are permanently closed.

Scott Magnuson said...

Thank you all for supporting us for the last four and a half years. I want to say I am sorry to everyone who tried to come to the argo last night for "Kids Night" and "Booze Clues Trivia"!! We WILL BE OPEN TONIGHT! and are having a Fun little TEA party! Drink specials will be as follows

$8 dollar pitchers of booty beer
$15 dollar pitchers of everything else!

Again I want to thank all of our supporters!

It has been a great four years getting to know all of our neighbors!

soul searcher said...

two good things in this thread

1) the argo has re-opened quickly despite this bump in the road/misunderstanding

2) 7th and H is a Saints fan! Who dat say dey gon beat them Saints? Le bon temps roulez!

7th and H said...

soul searcher:

"yeah you right!"

Anonymous said...

I have no sympathy for delinquent taxpayers. Nobody likes paying taxes, but we all, or should I say, most of us do. Thanks Joe for fessing up and getting right with the city. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Some of you will just hate on city government no matter what the issue is.

I have respect for Joe and glad this is all resolved now. But when I pay sales tax on my purchases it should go to the city not just add an extra discretionary layer of revenue to the proprietor. The city doesn't need more Nick Cho's.

Anonymous said...

I used to bank at Bank of America, but due to their size I choose to change to Navy Federal. The problem I had was my checking account routing number was based in Texas even though I opened the account in DC. It took extra time for all of my checks to clear - huge hassel and all because of the size of the quasi government owned bank of america.

Joe - Everyone in the community is thankful for the restaurants and understand when issues come up with the tax office. No worries.

Anonymous said...

One must wonder if the OTR is still "misplacing" checks if the accounting really is reliable and if we still have a little embezzlement scheme taking place over there.

Oh, and yes I will hate on them as OTR is consistently a crapshow.