Customers turned away from shuttered Midtown restaurant, popular chef in court

Mycah Hatfield Image
Saturday, September 3, 2022
3rd restaurant linked to embattled Taste owner about to open
13 Investigates has followed the controversy involving Chef Don Bowie, who is being accused of skipping out on sales tax and salaries for former workers.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An agreement in court will prevent Chef Don Bowie and his team from removing any equipment from his now shuttered steakhouse.

Attorneys representing Bowie's investors in the Washington Avenue restaurant suit, whom include singer Akon and Houston Texans great Andre Johnson, filed a motion on Friday.

In it, they said the restaurant closed abruptly Sunday, and the restaurant's account is $270,000 in the red. They said the money was garnished by the state comptroller's office.

The state agency told ABC13 that Rare Steakhouse owes about $140,000 in unpaid taxes. Bowie's other restaurant, Taste Bar and Kitchen in Midtown, owes $206,000.

SEE MORE: Midtown bar's tax liability grows to $206K as closure details emerge

ABC13 is getting clarity over a popular Midtown restaurant's closure. It's part of a story that 13 Investigates has brought you in recent months.

The plaintiff's attorneys said the only thing that is worth anything at Rare now is the equipment and the fixtures.

They quoted reporting done by ABC13 earlier this week in the court filing that said equipment was being moved from Taste's location at 3015 Bagby to a new location in downtown Houston.

Ultimately, both attorneys agreed that equipment could not be moved from Rare Steakhouse.

On Friday, the state comptroller's office was at the Taste location alongside a company that picked up 12 pieces of their equipment that was rented by the restaurant.

That location was seized Tuesday by the comptroller's office for unpaid taxes.

SEE MORE: Popular restaurant slapped with seizure notice amid unpaid tax claims

A twist emerged involving Taste Restaurant and Bar in Midtown, a business under fire with state tax collectors and its own workforce. It's a story that 13 Investigates continues to explore.

At 1 a.m. on Monday, surveillance video captured people loading equipment into a U-Haul truck outside Taste.

ABC13 also found a location at 314 Gray Street that Bowie has permits for. A sign posted on the door said he is locked out for non-payment of rent and other expenses laid out in the lease. It is not clear what was planned for that location.

We reached out to Bowie for comment, and he told ABC13 that he was not interested in hearing the truth and declined to do an interview.

When asked if he disputed the more than $200,000 the comptroller claims is outstanding for the Midtown spot, he blamed being locked out of the restaurant for eight days in March. He said they lost about $500,000 during that time. He also said his employees and customers were harassed, which damaged his business.

PREVIOUS STORY: Houston's popular Midtown restaurant Taste Bar and Kitchen employees struggling to receive payment

Meanwhile, dozens of customers showed up on Friday to Taste in Midtown at about 11 a.m. Many were from out of town and made the hot spot their first stop in Houston.

They were disappointed to be turned away.

"They really had an opportunity to be very big, because, like I said, this is a Houston establishment," Niyeka Shearn, who flew in from Baltimore, said. "The word traveled all the way to Baltimore. They've been all over social media and Facebook with good reviews, their plates, the live entertainment. To mess up an opportunity like that is sad."

SEE ALSO: Taste Bar and Kitchen Midtown restaurant re-opens after closing due to repeat health violations

The restaurant will be able to re-open when they have corrected their violations and pass a subsequent inspection.

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