Philadelphia is home to many bars. And since nearly 1/5th of all parcels in Philadelphia are tax delinquent, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of tax delinquent bars as well. Some are just barely getting by because of the recession. Others have owners who think they are above the law and thus owe the City loads of business and license taxes as well, far beyond what a struggling bar would owe.
West Philadelphians are quite familiar with one in particular, Watutsi II, which was knackered over its failure to keep up its obligation to pay property tax. It was only closed after a cacophony of complaints by neighbors for being a nuisance.
But here is something you will find funny. I think I should let you in on a little secret.
While you can get away with not paying property taxes for 6 1/2 years on average before the City reacts, the same can’t be said for bar owners who fail to pay their distributors on time.
In Pennsylvania, a bar that bounces a check can get its liquor license pulled. The speed at which that can happen is remarkable.
Take the case of the Copper Clove, at 2262 E. Allegheny Street. It happens to be completely paid up on its Real Estate taxes (it sits 3 blocks away from Kensington, in Port Richmond, so its taxes are quite low). However the same can’t be said for other taxes and licenses.
This bar has been an on-again, off-again nuisance in Port Richmond. Most recently, Port Richmond Town Watch was alerted to a white male who entered in the bar with a shotgun, and asking for a particular individual. Not finding him, he left. In most communities this news would alarm neighbors. But in Port Richmond, this is just another installment in a long series of nuisances.
The owner, John Laning, has a litany of troubles in civil court. Credit card companies have repeatedly taken him to task over unpaid bills. Repeated failures to file BPT tax returns and pay revenue tax.
This particular case which was filed in December, will probably go nowhere:
The City tried to serve the bar, but John wasn’t ever available to get notice that he’s being sued. Not that this matters anyway. Laning was hit with a default judgement by the City once before for not filing a BPT return:
Many long time bar owners will give you one piece of advice about running a Philadelphia establishment. Always pay your Origlio bill.
This is a Commonwealth thing. You can short the city hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time in taxes, but if you bounce a check to your beverage distributor of choice, your bevvy distributor will immediately complain to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Because PLCB enforcement is done in conjunction with Pennsylvania state troopers, the City nor the Police Department get involved.
And when you bounce a check or don’t pay your bev bills, THIS happens:
It’s actually quite interesting how one bad check can quickly take care of a nuisance bar, but a pile of Revenue cases doesn’t.
So for “J.C.R.J”, the holder of the actual liquor license for the last 10 years, and “JRW 2262” which are both John Laning… here’s a quick scan of the PLCB record for this bar:
Thanks Philadelphia for keeping shit like this in the neighborhood.