Less than a month before the Parthenon abruptly ended its 48-year run in Chicago’s Greektown, the Internal Revenue Service alleged the restaurant owed nearly $230,000 in federal taxes, according to public records.
Dated Aug. 11, the IRS lien for $229,161.03 was the latest in a series of claims against the restaurant by authorities, who said the Parthenon’s total liabilities for state and federal taxes totaled about $475,000.
The Parthenon served its last meals Sept. 5. A sign that appeared in a front window Tuesday revealed the Halsted Street landmark was permanently closed and thanked customers.
In addition to the claim filed a month ago, the feds had issued another lien against the Parthenon in September 2015 for $153,321.03, records show.
And the Illinois Department of Revenue said in August 2014 the restaurant owed the state $91,695.43 in unpaid taxes.
The more than $380,000 due to the federal government was almost all for employee withholding taxes that should have been paid for 2014 and 2015, records show.
The restaurant had 45 employees at the time it closed, said Parthenon founder and owner Christos Liakouras.
The state also alleged that the restaurant owed a variety of unpaid taxes, including withholding income tax and a food and beverage tax that goes to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
Liakouras said he expected he and his daughter and partner in the restaurant, Joanna Liakouras, would meet with their lawyer and with the feds to arrange for a payment plan.
“We are going to go meet with the IRS, and I think they will get all their money, slowly but surely,” said Liakouras, 80.
“Of course, there are various debts that made us close down,” Joanna Liakouras said. “We tried to save the business, believe me. We are good people who are trying to resolve things.”
The restaurant at 314 S. Halsted was a Greektown favorite since 1968. But Christos Liakouras — who’s credited with coming up with the now-famous “flaming cheese” dish — says the restaurant became a money-loser during the last couple of years.
Companies created by another Greek-American businessman recently bought the property where the Parthenon was located, according to real estate and corporate documents.
The Parthenon also has faced several lawsuits:
• Commonwealth Edison won a judgment against the restaurant in Cook County Circuit Court for $7,161.28 in January.
• A lawyer who said he was the Parthenon’s liquor-license attorney sued last year, alleging he was owed more than $5,000. The case is still pending in county court.
• The restaurant settled a suit for more than $17,000 with a meat market last year and agreed to pay the whole amount due in $2,000 installments.
• A diner sued the Parthenon alleging a meal he ate there in March caused him to become “seriously ill with a bacterial food-borne illness.” The customer’s lawyer, Mark Patricowski of Wheaton, said Friday the case — which sought damages of between $30,000 and $50,000 — has been resolved but he declined to disclose the settlement amount.
The Parthenon failed city health inspections on March 22, March 29 and Aug. 4, according to city officials, closing at one point for several weeks.
The sudden demise of the restaurant marks a sad conclusion to what had been a classic immigrant dream come true for Liakouras, who moved to the U.S. from his native Greece in 1955.
The Parthenon was among the early pioneers in what quickly developed into a well-known, four-block-long Greek restaurant row on Halsted between Van Buren and Adams Streets.
Liakouras says the Parthenon introduced two dishes that became Greek-American standards — gyros and saganaki, which involves the table-side lighting of a pan of brandy-doused cheese.
But last week he said the costs of running the Parthenon had come to exceed revenue.
“The last few years were not so good,” he said. “Tell the customers I thank them. We are sorry we can’t continue.”