As of this week, fans of Church's Chicken have 15 fewer restaurants to get their fried chicken fix. According to Fox23, the Atlanta-based chain was forced to close more than a dozen of its Oklahoma locations for failure to pay sales tax. Three of the restaurants were located in Tulsa, and the rest were in surrounding areas including Broken Arrow and Oklahoma City.
The director of communications for the Oklahoma Tax Commission stated the failure to pay taxes had been an ongoing issue, and the commission "tried to work with them" before revoking Church's sales tax license. Unfortunately, the restaurants were not notified before being shuttered and employees throughout the state arrived for work to find orange stickers on their doors indicating the closures.
In an statement provided to Eater, a spokesperson for Church's said the company was not aware of the problem.
"These locations that have closed are operated by a franchisee. We were as shocked as our guests and the restaurants' crew that the locations had not paid their state sales taxes. We are working diligently to reach the franchisee and his representatives to understand the scope of the problem and to discuss alternatives that will result in these locations reopening as soon as possible."
Church's joins the list of popular restaurants accused of evading taxes. In April, it was reported that the 2014 FBI raid of nine of Chicago's Tony Hu's was due to tax fraud. In Montreal, another Chinese restaurant, Le Port de Chine, was slapped with almost 500 counts of tax fraud, possible prison time, and $1.3 million in fines. A few months prior, a tax raid on Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, Calif., resulted in the heart attack of chef/owner Robert Bell during the process. While the closing of 15 Church's locations may appear to be a disaster for the company, it could be worse.
Here is a complete list of the temporarily shuttered Church's locations:
1235 N Sante Fe Ave., Moore, OK, 73160
1012 SW 59th St., Oklahoma City, OK, 73109
4438 NW 10th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73107
5034 N Peoria Ave., Tulsa, OK 74126
3036 S Garnett Rd., Tulsa, OK 74129
543 SW 29th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73106
9010 NE 23rd St., Midwest City, OK 73141
1424 NE 23rd St., Oklahoma City, OK 73111
4428 SE 44th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73135
2555 E Pine St., Tulsa, OK 74110
415 S Elm Pl., Broken Arrow, OK 74012
301 W 2nd St., Sand Springs, OK 74063
11618 E 86th St. N, Owasso, OK 74055
1320 E Lindsey St., Norman, OK 73071
2 N Mission St., Sapulpa, OK 74066