The West Akron breakfast diner that found itself in the national spotlight after President Barack Obama made a campaign stop there in July 2012 has been shut down as a result of delinquent taxes.
Ann’s Place on South Hawkins Avenue gained national attention after its owner, Josephine Ann Harris, 70, died shortly after talking to reporters about her excitement over meeting the president.
Harris was not at work that day and was at home recuperating from a heart attack. She went in to the restaurant to meet the president. The restaurant has been in business for about 30 years.
Bright pink public notice signs are posted on every door of the diner by the Tax Commissioner stating the diner is prohibited from making any retail sales on the property on or after Nov. 5.
Wilma Parsons, Harris’ daughter, has been running the day-to-day operations of the restaurant since her mother’s death.
Parsons said she is talking to her brother who runs the business side of the restaurant to determine what the family wants to do next. No decision has been made whether to shut down the restaurant permanently.
The Ohio Department of Taxation said such notices are usually given to businesses that are either delinquent paying on sales taxes or withholding taxes or commercial activity taxes.
The restaurant has also run afoul in paying its county taxes.
Summit County property records show the property fell delinquent in the second half of the 2011 tax year and was certified delinquent in 2012.
The last payment made by the owners was in the amount of $2,483 on Feb. 27, 2013. At that time the property was delinquent $5,849.
County officials say a delinquent notice was mailed to the owners that the property was pending a tax lien sale and would go to sale in November.
The tax lien was sold for $6,715. The owners will have the opportunity to negotiate a payment plan with the lien holder. If the lien is not paid within one year, the lien holder has the option to foreclose on the property.
A recent community-led effort to raise funds to place a new sign on the property recognizing the president’s visit is also in limbo.
Cynda Williams, who was leading the effort to get the new sign, said she was surprised to learn of the restaurant’s closing.
“I will wait to find out what is going on with the restaurant before ending the fundraiser,” she said. “I already talked to my tax accountant, if they don’t reopen I may have to find a charity to donate the $500 that has already been collected.”
The faithful patrons, especially the 12 or 13 members of the so-called Dawg Pound that the president joked with during his visit, are talking about trying to get the place back up and running.
“We are talking to possible investors,” said Larry Stewart, one of the daily patrons of the Dawg Pound. “I didn’t know about the closing until I saw the tax bill in the window and one of the workers told me, ‘they’re putting us out.’ In the meantime we’ve been meeting at a couple of different places to keep the group together. We are just looking for a place to be.”
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.