Tax Suit Appears to Shutter U-City Fortels Pizza
University City, MO/April 19, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – No one likes to see another restaurant closed, especially when it’s a franchise location of a favorite local pizza chain. But it comes as no surprise that the Fortel’s Pizza Den at 7358 Forsyth Blvd. in University City has shut down. The move comes less than a month after owner Jeffrey Behrmann and his company JB2, LLC were sued by the State of Missouri over unpaid taxes. The lawsuit, filed March 20, 2017, alleges that the restaurant owes the state $149,389. The debt is allegedly a combination of sales taxes paid by customers on their purchases and earnings taxes withheld from employee paychecks, but never paid to the state.
The pizzeria apparently closed early last week. Still, there is no posted sign indicating the restaurant has closed, but the building is dark and the doors remain locked.
Behrmann and JB2, LLC had been working with the state to pay back taxes, even entering into a payment plan. But the Department of Revenue now claims that three payment checks issued by the pizza restaurant bounced. This issue of back taxes is not new for Behrmann. Even before last month’s lawsuit, Behrmann and his business have been the subjects of at least 21 liens and three writs of garnishment. The lawsuit also alleges that the restaurant has allowed its business license to lapse, a code violation.
Tax issues between the State of Missouri and Behrmann have drug on since at least 2014, with the Department of Revenue reporting it had revoked the pizzeria’s sales tax license in December of that year. The state is now asking a St. Louis County judge to bar the restaurant from doing business or to consider putting it in receivership so that it can be closed permanently. Behrmann was supposed to appear at a hearing last week (4/11/17) to tell the judge why the preliminary injunction should not go forward. It doesn’t look as if Behrmann came to court. According to Missouri Case.net, a summons was served to the Fenton man the following day (4/12/17). That’s about the same time his U-City Fortel’s location closed.
Fortel’s Pizza Dens are all franchises that are independently owned. There are other Fortel’s franchises located in Afton, Ballwin, Creve Coeur, Fairview Heights, and Kirkwood. The pizza restaurant at 7358 Forsyth Blvd. in University City is the only one owned by Behrmann, and the only one involved in the state’s lawsuit.