State closes 10 Taco Ticos; owner may declare Chapter 11 to try to reopen

UPDATED — At 10 a.m. March 4, the state seized the assets of Ajax International Group, which owns Taco Tico, and closed 10 of the restaurants.

“This is for nonpayment of retail state sales tax,” says Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue. “With that, they seized multiple sites.”

Koranda says there are two warrants against the company.

One, for June through September of 2011, is for $73,315.94. The other, for October 2011 through October 2012, is for $361,623.29.

Owner Mohmood Karim referred calls to his attorney, Bill Zimmerman. Zimmerman says the two most likely options for Karim are to either get on a payment plan or declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“We will do our best to try to get them reopened tomorrow,” Zimmerman says. “Chapter 11 is probably the most straightforward way.”

The seizure included six Wichita Taco Ticos, one in Derby, one in Arkansas City, one in Dodge City and one in Topeka.

“This is the last in a long series of steps that are taken,” Koranda says of the state shutting down a business.

“We always work with the businesses in question,” she says. “If they can go onto a payment plan or work out an arrangement, they will be allowed to reopen.”

Zimmerman says he’s not sure why Karim wasn’t already on a payment plan.

“I know there were a lot of discussions,” he says. “Obviously, the taxes are serious and need to be dealt with.”

The Augusta, Newton and El Dorado Taco Ticos are not corporate restaurants and are still open.

Zimmerman isn’t sure how quickly Karim’s restaurants will be able to reopen.

“We’re certainly going to try to expedite it,” he says. “If they’re out of business, it becomes very difficult to pay the taxes, obviously.”