Century-old restaurant closed in Murfreesboro - WSMV News 4

Century-old restaurant closed in Murfreesboro

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The owner of the famous City Cafe in Murfreesboro is speaking out tonight, telling his side of the story about his business being shut down. State agents seized the legendary lunch spot yesterday claiming the owner wasn't paying his taxes.

City Cafe owner Scott Perkins said he was caught off guard when agents from the State Department of Revenue showed up at his business yesterday. It was right in the middle of breakfast with a restaurant full of customers.

"Four or five agents had come through the front door, and then I realized there were armed agents in the back," Perkins said. "They had surrounded the business."

 The state agents shut down and padlocked City Cafe, and slapped notices on the windows and doors.

"It's tragic for us, the employees and the community," the owner said.

Perkins said different departments within the State Department of Revenue are giving conflicting stories. He said one claimed he owed around $100,000 in back sales taxes in February. Yesterday that amount had jumped to nearly $235,000.

"One department has told us that's from a six or eight month period," Perkins said. "The other department said no - that's from the entire time you've been here. We don't have you down as paying any taxes."

Perkins purchased the Downtown Murfreesboro landmark in 2007. He said he has paid his sales taxes, and disputes owing a dime. He said he's tried working things out with the state for months.

Right now he's not concerned about losing money while the business closed. He said he's worried about his 12 employees.

"(There are) single moms and single dads. They rely on this place to provide for their families," Perkins said. "They're scared to death."

It didn't take long for the word of the closure to spread around town.

"I was highly surprised because they have been here forever. Me and the crew go every Saturday for breakfast," Shave Barber Shop Owner Joey Coriano said.

"The square has great atmosphere and a great vibe, and every business collectively working together is good for the square," Shave Barber Shop Master Barber Ryan Isenberg said.

Perkins said not only does the closure affect his business, but other businesses in Rutherford County as well, because he buys all his products from local vendors.

Perkins said City Cafe is oldest restaurant in Murfreesboro and one of the oldest businesses in the state.

Today two state lawmakers who visit the restaurant regularly reached out to Perkins.

State Rep. Mike Sparks plans on checking with the state to help get to the bottom of this sales taxes debacle.

"There needs to be a better system in place than the Department of Revenue coming in Gestapo-style, locking doors and shutting down businesses," Sparks said. "We need to be creating jobs, not shutting jobs down."

The restaurant has been open in downtown Murfreesboro for more than a century.

City Cafe celebrated its 112th year of business earlier this year, but now it's unclear if it will reopen.

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