Australian restaurant Burke & Wills at 226 West 79th Street was seized by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance on Wednesday afternoon, with a note on the door saying it was for “nonpayment of taxes.”
A message on the restaurant’s answering machine said they were “temporarily closed” as of 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, but are “working to be reopened and serving you as soon as possible.” The same message was left at the Manhattan Cricket Club bar upstairs from the restaurant.
Update: Owner Tim Harris sent the following explanation to us through a spokesperson:
“Burke & Wills was born from the ashes of the Moo Life Group (The Sunburnt Cow, The Sunburnt Calf, Bondi Road and The Sunburnt Calf BK), where I was involved in a managerial capacity. After the Sunburnt Cow was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, I purchased the current Burke & Wills space, which was part of Moo Life Group. As a result, I inherited the debt incurred from the storm, which included a sum owed to NYS for sales taxes owed.
After making every effort to work with the state over the past 4 years, there has currently been a misunderstanding, and we are working as hard as we can to resolve the issue and reopen within the next few days.”
The closure is putting a damper on some Upper West Siders’ plans.
“I was excited to have cocktails at the Manhattan Cricket Club, but it has been ‘seized,'” wrote Chris, who sent in the photo above.
Others wondered what would happen to their upcoming reservations — the restaurant has encouraged to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. We did not receive an immediate response after emailing the restaurant early Thursday, but will update this if we do.
Thanks to Katie, Lauren, Chris, Ezra, Marlene and others for tips and photos!