FOLLOW-UP: Jun Bo Chinese Restaurant Shutters Doors

After repeated trouble with the Richfield Public Safety Department and state tax collectors, the April 2011 revocation of the restaurant's liquor license was the beginning of the end.

Following an eventful several months for , which saw the eatery’s liquor license revoked by the Richfield City Council in April 2011, legal issues with the state and the for approximately $5 million in March, Jun Bo has closed its doors.

Mayor Debbie Goettel, who was critical of Jun Bo at recent city council meetings, said the City of Richfield expected the restaurant to close following the April termination of the restaurant’s liquor license.

“We knew they wouldn’t be viable without their liquor license,” Goettel said after the restaurant closed. "And so they just decided to leave, which is probably to the benefit of Menards as well."

After opening in 2006 with vaunted reviews by metro area food critics, Jun Bo’s tenure in Richfield was plagued by trouble with the . In 2007 the department expressed concern over the establishment’s high incident level, with a reported 82 public safety calls regarding problems at the restaurant.

In December of 2007 the city council gave Jun Bo its first warning, approving the restaurant’s 2008 liquor license with the provisional requirement that it give the city council quarterly updates on progress being made to reduce public safety calls. Richfield Public Safety reported that calls to the restaurant decreased to 69 in 2008.

However, that was not the end of problems for the embattled restaurant. Jun Bo began running into trouble with local authorities over incident calls again the following year. Between October 2009 and September 2010, Police reported more than 160 police contacts involving the restaurant. The restaurant was also accused of allegedly serving alcohol to minors.

The persistent public safety attention, led to a lot of discussion at a on whether or not to renew the restaurant's liquor license.

"A year ago we sat here and I warned them," City Council Member Tom Fitzhenry said during that meeting. "I said that if the calls went back up I wouldn't support [a renewal], and I am going to hold to my word."

With one council member absent, the restaurant was granted a temporary license extension, but further concerns about the restaurant were cited at the March 14, 2011 city council meeting, at which time a March 5, 2011 brawl at the restaurant was discussed. During that incident the Richfield Public Safety was forced to call both the airport and Edina Police for backup. As a result, the council finally voted to immediately suspend the restaurant’s liquor license at its .

While a lawyer for the property owners urged the council to reconsider, requests to extend Jun Bo's liquor license until Sept. 30, 2011, the date Jun Bo's operators had originally planned to cease operations, were denied.

Within a week of the city council stripping the restaurant of its liquor license, Jun Bo had to provide proof to state authorities regarding plans for the remainder of their liquor stock before surrendering their buyer’s card, which enabled them to purchase wholesale liquor from distributors. Despite forfeiture of its liquor license, Jun Bo was licensed to continue operating as a food establishment through the end of Dec. 2011, according to Betsy Osborn, division manager for Richfield Public Safety.

In addition to a high volume of police contacts over the years, Jun Bo was also in hot water with the state for allegedly not paying sales tax. Just days before the council denied the renewal of the liquor license the state found the restaurant’s failure to pay . Jun Bo was ordered by the Minnesota Tax Court to pay over $250,000 in back taxes and fines. It’s unclear what role problems with the state tax collector may have played in Jun Bo’s closure or the property’s sale to Menards.

Calls about the restaurant’s closure and the recent court findings were never returned. As of last week Jun Bo’s phone number had also been disconnected. A representative for Menards said that the company was still in the planning stage for the property and couldn't comment further.

Kay Nelson July 21, 2011 at 02:17 PM
I wish we could have Chi Chi's back!!


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