Unpaid Taxes and Bounced Checks Linger In Wake of Frank San Antonio's Abrupt Closing

by

comment
BARTHOLOMEW S. TAYLOR
  • Bartholomew S. Taylor
The downtown location of Frank in Austin temporarily closed this past Thursday, February 1. The restaurant, which opened in 2009, was seized by the Texas Comptroller's office as a "result of unpaid taxes," per the Austin-American Statesman's Austin 360 blog.

As of Monday, Frank owed the state more than $186,000 sales and alcohol taxes, according to Chris Porter, spokesman for the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission. Once that debt is paid, the Austin location could reopen.

The news comes weeks after the hot dog company closed its San Antonio location via an Instagram post. According to employees who spoke with the Current, owner Daniel Northcutt announced the Monday, January 22 closing to local staff that same day, during a mandatory management meeting. Frank's San Antonio opening was first announced in 2014, with the Austin-based operation hoping to bring their hot dogs and cold beer to the Alamo City in the heart of Southtown. It first opened in early 2016 with a dining room, music venue, bar and lounge inside the former Casbeers at the Church at 1150 S. Alamo St.

Several employees told the Current that during the final meeting, they were asked to help load a U-Haul with the restaurant's equipment and alcohol. They allegedly all refused.

That U-Haul was parked in the location's back lot. As of Thursday, February 8, there was no U-Haul seen parked on the property.

Per Porter and TABC records, the liquor license for the San Antonio Frank location expired on January 18, three days before the shop closed its doors.

In order to lawfully transport liquor in Texas, the commission requires a permit be filed prior to the move, and Porter says, "we have not received or approved an inventory transfer request for Frank, but our folks are reaching out to the business owner to determine what their current status and plans are."

The closing of the restaurant came as surprise to most employees, even assistant manager Erica Traylor, who began working for Frank last August.

"We were given a goal of $40,000 a month to be profitable, and that was not gonna happen with hot dogs," Traylor said. She said the store routinely hit 50 percent of that goal.

"They opened two more locations (Scholz Garden and a pop-up at University of Texas at Austin) and San Antonio fell off," Traylor said. "They didn't give us attention or tell us how to keep sales going ... promotion didn't happen."

Since the January 22 closing, at least two Frank employees have told the Current that their final paychecks from the company have bounced — with amounts varying from $75 to $865. According to Annette Rodriguez, who worked at Frank for just over a month, the total number of employees with known bounced checks is closer to 10. Rodriguez didn't cash her check for $100 after getting phone calls and texts from fellow former employees warning her of the bounced checks.

"I'm glad I didn't cash that, it would have sucked," Rodriguez said.

The Current reached Northcutt, one of Frank's owners, on Friday, February 2, via email. He confirmed the situation was being handled: "We are currently taking care of any and all checks that had issues. Thank you."

Rodriguez received a similar email on Saturday afternoon:

"We have issued an email and encouraged all previous managers to alert staff that we became aware of this situation yesterday. We are currently in the process of rectifying the situation as we certainly intend to make this right early next week," Northcutt wrote. "Thank you and apologies for the for the inconvenience. Please help pass the word to your counterparts that we will make this right."

As of Wednesday, San Antonio employees have not received their new checks or heard from Northcutt.

Most of Frank's social media accounts have been silent since Sunday, January 28.

For former Frank bartender Aaron Jarvis, a bounced check and the subsequent fees mean "living off canned veggies and pancakes this week."

He reached out to Kristina Recla, director of operations for Frank, who emailed him Wednesday morning saying, "We're almost ready to take care of everyone. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience. Will will [sic] be in touch soon."

No timeline was given for when Jarvis and his former coworkers will receive their owed wages.

Stay on top of the latest in the San Antonio food scene. Sign up for our Flavor Friday newsletter.