by Ian Froeb
Restaurants often appear in the "Leads" section of the St. Louis Business Journal, which lists recent federal and state tax liens, lawsuits and the like, but the high profile and high dollar amount of the federal tax lien listed in the paper's June 15 issue grabbed Gut Check's attention. The federal government has levied a $47,552 tax lien against Salt (4356 Lindell Boulevard; 314-932-5787).
Via the restaurant's spokesperson, co-owner Armando Siliceo-Roman sent Gut Check this statement about the lien: "In recent weeks it came to our attention that we owed taxes from 2011. We quickly put an agreement in place with the IRS and the matter is being resolved. The fundamentals of our business are quite strong, which is a testament to the dedication of our staff who routinely delight our customers."
Salt, Riverfront Times' "Best New Restaurant" of 2011, has been in the news frequently in recent months. In February, the James Beard Foundation named Salt as a semifinalist for its "Best New Restaurant" award, the first St. Louis restaurant so honored. A week later, chef and co-owner Wes Johnson appeared on NBC's Today.
In May, however, Johnson and Salt parted ways. Josh Roland now runs the kitchen at Salt. Johnson, meanwhile, is overhauling the menu at Cafe Pintxos (3407 Olive Street; 314-338-2500), the restaurant in the ground floor of Midtown's Hotel Ignacio, and also pursuing a new concept with his once-and-future culinary partner Brendan Noonan of Harvest (1059 South Big Bend Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-645-3522).
According to the item in the Business Journal, the federal tax lien on Salt is dated May 7, 2012, or two weeks prior to Johnson's departure from the restaurant. We've asked Salt, through its spokesperson, whether there is any connection between the two events. We'll update the post when we have a response.