Archive for Thursday, May 22, 2008

Papa Keno’s assets seized by state

Pizzeria to remain closed unless owner pays back taxes

Passers-by  read the "Seized" sign displayed Wednesday in the window of Papa Keno's, 1035 Mass. The sign read, "This property has been seized for nonpayment of taxes, and is now in the possession of the state of Kansas."

Passers-by read the "Seized" sign displayed Wednesday in the window of Papa Keno's, 1035 Mass. The sign read, "This property has been seized for nonpayment of taxes, and is now in the possession of the state of Kansas."

May 22, 2008


State seizes Papa Keno's assets

A longtime pizzeria in downtown Lawrence faces legal heat from the state. Agents from the Kansas Department of Revenue paid a visit to the pizza shop today. 6News reporter Mark Fagan has more. Enlarge video

Papa Keno's Pizzeria is closed in downtown Lawrence and Overland Park, and its signature slices won't be cooked to order anymore unless owner Greg Keenan can pay his taxes.

Agents from the Kansas Department of Revenue seized all cash, known bank accounts, business inventory and equipment from Keenan and his two restaurants Wednesday morning, seeking to cut into more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties.

The moves came after the department filed tax warrants seeking repayment for unpaid sales taxes and payroll-withholding taxes, plus interest and penalties. One of the warrants is from this year, and another goes back to 2005, when Keenan had owed $150,000 and had established a payment plan to satisfy the debt.

On Wednesday - with the 2005 warrant showing a debt of $84,000, but the combined total having reached up to $170,419.98 - the department took the next step: closing the shops, seizing their assets and making plans to sell items to cut the state's losses.

"Warrant execution occurs only after all other collection attempts - including letters, calls and all other types of communication - have failed to resolve it," said Dedra Platt, manager of civil tax enforcement. "Warrant execution and business seizure only occurs as a last resort. :

"Our goal is not to put them out of business. We go to extra effort to try and resolve it. We will continue to work with him - with any taxpayer."

Keenan, reached Wednesday at his office, said that he was working to resolve his tax issues.

"We're dealing with it," Keenan said, a few hours after agents posted a "SEIZED" sign on the front door at 1035 Mass., downstairs from his office. "We just got it all settled."

Keenan declined to discuss the situation further, saying he had to talk with his attorney.

"Everything will be fine," he said.

Later in the afternoon, state agents sat at tables inside the pizzeria, eating to-go food from Dairy Queen. An unmarked van showed up, and a man got out and quickly changed the restaurant's door locks. Others affiliated with the operation stood nearby in silence, awaiting instructions.

Platt said the assets were being seized with one goal: to be sold at auction, so the tax debt could be paid. Removal of tables, chairs, ovens and other equipment could begin as soon as Friday.

"As long as the taxpayer is working with the department, trying to resolve the debt, we never get to this type of action," she said. "This is not a normal activity."

Papa Keno's started in 1990, when Keenan opened his first restaurant on East Ninth Street. It later moved to 1035 Mass., and he opened the downtown Overland Park location in 1995.

He later lived in Denver, where he opened two Papa Keno's storefronts - one in 2001, and another in 2003. But he sold those in December 2003 and moved back to Lawrence to grapple with financial problems that he says were caused by one of his own employees.

In 2005, the state said the Lawrence store had been under-reporting sales beginning in 2002 and extending into 2004.

"Somebody was stealing in my office," Keenan said at the time. "I chose not to press criminal charges, and I handled the matter internally."

Keenan had said that he had made a $40,000 downpayment on the debt and had established a payment plan.

On Wednesday, Platt declined to discuss specifics of Keenan's current tax debt, other than what had been included in the tax warrants themselves.


BigAl 7 years ago

acg... and one of my biggest employee expenses is to Health Care Premiums. That is, and has been, the fastest and largest growing payroll expense I have.I like how satchel just blames the "libs"... it goes much deeper than that.

NotaKenoFan 7 years ago

Two of my sons worked for Mr. Keenan. One never received his last paycheck and the other had his last check bounce.Too bad only the tax man will recover any money. My only satisfaction will be seeing Keenan go broke.

Katie Van Blaricum 7 years ago

This sucks; it was my favorite pizza!! It always seems busy in there; how could business have been so bad that he couldn't afford his bills??

greasytony 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years ago

I now know how to tell if a restaurant is going to close: I like eating there. Those are the ones that always go under.

Sigmund 7 years ago

"Keenan gave it a go, and did well-for a while. But longevity won't keep you in business if you don't also maintain quality-and if you also don't keep your taxes current."My understanding was that PK's was profitable just not profitable enough to support Keenan's lifestyle and that pizza wasn't the only thing available for sale there.

geniusmannumber1 7 years ago

Got news for you West_Sider--ain't no pizza place in this town (maybe not in the country) where you're not going to see that.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years ago

Bossa_NovaDo you know if the Shakespeare's in Columbia has any connection to the Shakespeare's that use to be here in Lawrence back in the early 70s? It was located in the building where Jayhawk Bookstore is now...that was some of the best pizza I ever ate...

Scott Tichenor 7 years ago

Their pizza really went downhill the past few years. We stopped going there. Too inconsistent. They were all too happy to serve you a slice with a burnt crust. Bye-bye Papa's. What was once a terrific slice, the best around, will be no more.

Michael Throop 7 years ago to the location in Westport,that location seems to be snakebit.Keno's was at least the THIRD shop at that site in recent years to either not open at all or drop out after a few months.You could attribute it to the number of resturants in Westport or who knows what else, but the major unaddressed problem around there is the distinct lack of parking.

Calliope877 7 years ago

Bossa_Nova , LOL!I think they should rename Pizza Shuttle as "Drunk Man's Pizza," although Pizza Sh!ttle is pretty good too...doubt they'd get much advertising for the name though.

Alison Roberts 7 years ago

No, the KC store is closed as well... it says that in the first paragraph.The pizza was decent.... it just took them like 30 minutes to make 2 slices for us one day... and it was completely dead when we were there. How hard is it to pay your damn taxes?!

jumpin_catfish 7 years ago

Don't pay your taxes you are screwed. Govt misuse those tax dollars, no problem!

auturgy 7 years ago

This is a tragedy for me, who's favorite restaurant in town was Papa Kenos.Curses.

Sigmund 7 years ago

When "Pizza Shoppe" closed on Wakarusa I tried Papa Keno's again. The slice came out burned black nearly 1/2 inch around all the edges. I asked if they were going to redo it and was told "some people like it that way." When I asked them what people those were and got a blank stare, they redid it. Decided I would get my specialty pizza fix in KC from then on. Rudy's pizza is average on its very best day although their other offerings are not too bad. I guess the homeless and the hippies like it enough to eat it out of their dumpster every night.

Gareth Skarka 7 years ago

As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I thought PKs was the best pizza in town -- made by someone who understood that pizza crust is thin and chewy, not the thin-and-crispy that Midwesterners seem to think is "NY Style."Sadly, though -- over the past 5 years, the quality dropped so sharply that I really only kept getting pizza there out of a combined sense of nostalgia and hope that it would get better.There was an inverse relationship between the quality of that night's pizza and how high the staff was on that particular night. (Kinda like Yello Sub, in that respect)Hearing about Keenan's tax (and other) problems, it's pretty obvious that the run is over. 18 years isn't bad. I'll miss it -- but really, I'll miss what it was....not what it became in recent years.

Bossa_Nova 7 years ago

stuck,i've lived in both cities. and yes columbia is great just like lawrence. i know a lot of people dont want to admit it, but lawrence and columbia are so much alike. take away the jayhawk vs. tigers crap and you've got sister cities on the same mission.

karmaxs3 7 years ago

I knew Keenan in college. He was yucky then, but made good pizza. Sounds like he's yucky now, and makes yucky pizza. We used to call him "Papa Ego" b/c he seemed to think everyone wanted him. yeah, right. Not too cute, either in MHO. I think people just wanted to be around him to score a deal. Sounds like that hasn't changed either.

nverlost 7 years ago

Yea, good point...anyone know the process into making their dough? And sauce?

Ian Johnston 7 years ago

I worked at Papa Keno's for about a month. After I quit, I repeatedly tried to get hold of Greg in order to get payment for my time and he would never return my phone calls or respond to any messages I left with other employees. I finally had to file a wage claim form with the state of Kansas and am still waiting on the results of that investigation. I have to say when I saw this article, I wasn't surprised. I know the guy has money problems, but not paying his employees (or his taxes it seems) in order to fund his lifestyle and other activities is bullsh*t. This is something that was bound to happen. I hope for his sake that investigators don't find anything else that could incriminate him in more serious offenses...

geniusmannumber1 7 years ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad --Ain't that the truth?

otto 7 years ago

quisp ---The employees are screwed - who is going to pay them?I hope they are job hunting and not waiting to see what happens. This place is done.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years ago

Bossa_Novaand I agree... Keno's was the best pizza in town...though I am fond of Wheat State...

Sigmund 7 years ago

"The moves came after the department filed tax warrants seeking repayment for unpaid sales taxes and payroll-withholding taxes, plus interest and penalties."How many businesses in Downtown Lawrence have failed to pay not only sales taxes but they never paid the taxes they "withheld" from their employees paycheck? That money is the employees, not the KDOR's, at least not until April 15th and I can name at least five others, all locally owned. So, if you work downtown and your employer is "withholding taxes" and supposedly "sending them in for you," you might want to make sure they really are being paid and your accounts are current.

Michael Capra 7 years ago

he couldnt pay his bills for years.not a shock

quisp 7 years ago

Looks to me like all of Keenan's money went to pay off the mods on this board-- why else would my comments keep getting deleted? I'm not saying anything malicious or untrue. He didn't pay his employees. When he did, the checks were made of rubber. He gets thrown out of bars for accosting women. And he has a lot of... ahem... extracurricular activities that contribute to his money problems. All these things have been validated. Can you please explain to me how I have violated the sacred Terms Of Use Agreement?

satchel 7 years ago

Does anyone know how hard it is to run a business when you are taxed out the ying yang? Withholding, quarterly, state, federal, sales taxes. It is RIDICULOUS how much money you lose trying to run a business. For all we know he put paying his employees above paying his taxes which is the humane thing to do. But he could have just been irresponsible with his money also. Who knows.I feel sorry for this guy if he was just trying to do the right thing. Regardless, no one thinks about how small business' get Scr***d when taxes go up. The libs try to brainwash people into thinking it is just affecting the rich. when in reality it hits small business'. When they report their income at tax time it will put them in the 'rich' tax bracket when in reality they aren't, so they are taxed at a higher level. I am sorry but taxes stink. We had a business go under for the very same reason. We were able to pay back our taxes but at a HUGE expense to us.. Try having to work three jobs to do it and even then it isn't enough. When things were getting rough we chose to pay our employees who were great workers.

WALSTIB 7 years ago

greasytony nailed it, as did othersas a former employee I have but one word for Keenan:KARMA

Jaylee 7 years ago

i agree that i loved the pizza at a time, then my visits became more nostalgic. i used to work there as well and can attest to any and all things everyone else who worked there is saying... i guess i dont know what to think yet but i DO know this--I MAKE THE BEST PIZZA IN TOWN!!!!!!!!! hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

quisp 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

moveforward 7 years ago

To bad. At its peak. Papa Kenos was the best pizza in the midwest by a long shot.

nverlost 7 years ago

satchel- you are delusional. He took taxes out of his employee's checks each pay period but failed to give those deductions to the state. Feel sorry for way.At his O.P. location he fails to pay the historic downtown's dues, as the other tenants contribute, so hopefully he's out of the picture soon so he's no longer a drain on KS taxpayers and a burden to his business neighbors.

Marcus DeMond 7 years ago

At $4 a slice, I am surprised the place even stayed in business this long, Now if we could just get Pyramid Pizza back to it's original glory. I can only eat it when I'm wasted.

Bossa_Nova 7 years ago

stuck,no clue man. i wish i had an answer, but i was still in diapers back in the 70's. shake's in columbia is definitely some of the finest i've ever had. maybe we should contact shakespeare's and demand that they bail keno out and open up shop on mass.

Alison Roberts 7 years ago

harderfaster: Why would you stay at a place for 10 years if your paychecks bounced frequently? Shouldnt that be a warning bell?

agrabass 7 years ago

Wow....sounds like Papa Keno's and Salon DiMarco use the same accountant. Downtown Lawrence is amazing, and it is sad to see its polluted with a few bad business owners that think they are above the law. Makes it rough for everyone, not to mention the toxic karma that spews out everytime someone chooses to open the front door of and/or patronize either business.Just an FYI for the State of KS...pretty sure the above named business could use some "seizing". Shoot, did I just write that out loud? Only meant to think it. My bad.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years ago

Bossa_Nova well... I suppose I dated myself...but yeah... if Shakespeare's in Columbia is as good as the Shakespeare's was here in Lawrence we should definitely get them to move the way... thought I'm an avid Jayhawk fan I actully think Columbia is a great town... and... for the most part has better restaurants than Lawrence...

steelyann 7 years ago

I remember Papa Kenos when it was at the Pig's location. I was 13 and it was magical pizza! I loved the way the oven took up half of the restaurant. Then it moved and I grew up. I stopped eating at Papa Kenos for ethical reasons when I was a teenager. It was no secret that many people in Lawrence found the owner to be disgusting. As someone who left Lawrence over 10 years ago, it is interesting to read the owners reputation has not improved.

Calliope877 7 years ago

b3 (Anonymous) says: That place had the worse pizza in town, no joke.rattler (Anonymous) says: Worst pizza in town? No way, Gumbi's holds that distinctionSorry, you guys are both wrong: Pizza Shuttle holds the title of worst pizza in town...unless, of course, you're really drunk and hungry...but even then, you might as well put some cheese and tomato sauce on a piece of cardboard cuz that's what Pizza Shuttle pizza tastes like.

Bossa_Nova 7 years ago

indeed this was the best pizza in lawrence. maybe shakespeare's from columbia will take his place. oops, i'm sorry, did i say something good about missouri?!?!?!?

greasytony 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

gwjayhawk 7 years ago

""We're dealing with it," Keenan said, a few hors after agents posted a "SEIZED" sign on the front door at 1035 Mass."Might want to change that typo--hors into hours.

Laura Watkins 7 years ago

I don't understand why my comment was deleted so I am going to repeat it. This man owes money to his previous employees, money owed before his business was seized. He needs to pay these people. He took advantage of college kids who really need a job and are now out hundreds of dollars. This is not new information, or incorrect information, and if you don't believe me you can check the Kansas City Fox station's story on it in February. The Kansas Department of Labor should really be looking into this.

Todd Kofford 7 years ago

Take_a_letter_MariaI'm pretty sure that the Free State Brewing Company provides health care for many (if not all) of their employees.TK

more_cowbell 7 years ago

As far as pizza goes in this town, it's usually delivery anyway, and there are tons of chains already here.For local, I preferred Rudy's. But then again, I'm a Free State/Java Break/Liberty Hall aging liberal hippie doue. ;-)In any case, not paying taxes will get you in trouble, whether you're a business or an individual. In this case, it's a business--and a restaurant, to boot. And there was already a payment plan arrangment, but that seemed to be going in reverse. No surprise then that the state chose to cut its losses, tax-wise. Or perhaps some of the people whining about paying taxes don't realize that they may be high because some businesses (and individuals) default (or cheat) on theirs? The restaurant business is notoriously difficult, as the overall turnover on Mass. AND elsewhere demonstrates. Keenan gave it a go, and did well--for a while. But longevity won't keep you in business if you don't also maintain quality--and if you also don't keep your taxes current.R.I.P. Papa Keno's. And Mass St. Deli. Et cetera.

Evan Ridenour 7 years ago

"Did you ever notice when you eat at a buffet (Indian, Chinese, whatever) and pay by credit card or by check the cashier rings a sale into the register, but when you pay with cash they ring "No Sale?""On that topic. It is amazing what kind of discount you can get on more expensive purchases when you offer to pay in cash.

rattler 7 years ago

Worst pizza in town? No way, Gumbi's holds that distinction.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years ago

Al I doubt Papa K was providing health care insurance for any of his employees. I'd be surprised if any of the service establishments in town provide this for anyone beside their management staff if that.Finally, as the story stated he failed to pay withholding tax and sales tax. One of those he already collected from his employees, the other from his customer. No sympathy from me, even though I will miss the pizza.

kmat 7 years ago

No offense, but the pizza there has always sucked. There is only one good pizza place in town and that is RUDY'S!!!!!! Fresh, local ingredients. Sauce made daily. Nothings ever frozen. Great service, locally owned and operated. I have never, ever had a bad slice from there and I've been a patron since the old days when they were back behind the Crossing. For those who haven't tried it. please do.

somedude20 7 years ago

I never liked waiting 15-20 minutes for them to reheat the pizza only to wait 5-10 minutes for it to cool down. I can reheat stuff as well! Maybe I should open up a pizza joint and call it PaPa Taxes. Service stunk as did his accounting I guess

whatatown 7 years ago

Marcus (Anonymous) says: "At $4 a slice, I am surprised the place even stayed in business this long"How long has it been since you've actually ate there? a one topping slice is now $6.50. I ate there this last Friday and had some of the worst quality pizza ever. Felt like I was back eating cafeteria food, which is sad because I used to L O V E it. Oh well, won't have to worry about it anymore!

stuckinthemiddle 7 years ago

kmatno offense taken... but I suppose it's a matter of taste...I like Rudy's pizza but it doesn't really stand out as being much different than other pizza...for my taste, Papa Keno's was better... and much more unique...

Bossa_Nova 7 years ago

Callio, i agree. pizza shuttle should prolly be called pizza sh!ttle, but it did save me on countless occasions crawling around lawrence in a drunken stupor after 2am. i truly thank pizza sh!ttle for being there for me when i was in desperate need for cheap, nasty, drunkman's pizza

jonas 7 years ago

b3 (Anonymous) says:"That place had the worse pizza in town, no joke."No joke is contradictory with the posting name, maybe? Pizza Shuttle had the worst pizza, but definitely the best cheesesticks.

unklemonkey 7 years ago


Crossfire 7 years ago

Willie Nelson came back from Tax-Hell...Hope Papa can too.A slice as big as your face was the best around.

Laura Watkins 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Marcus DeMond 7 years ago

Johnny's Tavern has awesome NY style pizza and The Wagon Wheel is still putting out old school Pyramid Pizza. Don't get me started on the late-night, super cheap pizza places. Those guys are not even using "real" cheese. Students are just too drunk to notice.

Bossa_Nova 7 years ago

hey guys, regardless of the quality, bounced checks, personal behaviour of keenan, etc. his tuscan pizza was da shiznitz! anybody got the recipe?

quisp 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

BrianR 7 years ago

Gareth,The guy who has the ovens at Johnny's is a New Yorker, I love their pies. Now if there could only be a NY bagel...

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years ago

TK - Good for them and even more reason for me to patronize the brewery. That is something that is quite rare.TLM

West_Sider 7 years ago

We quit going there several years back after I watched an employee engage in a drug deal with a person that came into the restaraunt late on a Saturday night. God only knows what they were putting in the pizza or if they were following sanitary practices.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years ago

satchel,Just to be completely accurate, withholding tax and sales tax are collected by the business owner on behalf of the state. It isn't money that is "lost". Perhaps the employees and the consumers can complain about high tax rates, but the businessman can't complain about these two types.As a business owner, Douglas County property taxes on inventory and equipment are what chaps my hide.ronwell

lexi 7 years ago

Harderfaster "I worked for Keno's for 10 years and have had my paychecks bounce too many times to count. This guy is a cheat,"zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzAnd to think, it only took you 10 years to figure it out..... 10 years is a long time to put up with something like that. Should've found a different job.

KRITIKOS 7 years ago

concrete will is always lost.we will die and the taxes for our death will be paid by family members. THERE IS NO CAMPUS HIDEAWAY

artwhore 7 years ago

the KC location in westport closed a few months back.

BigPrune 7 years ago

Shouldn't have voted for Sebelius.

sissezz 7 years ago

love the pizza................but the service ws beginning to suck. Too bad.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years ago

acg,You're right. I shouldn't have been quite so specific. Indeed there are two components of the withholding tax: the employee's portion and the company's portion. I suspect that the owner was withholding the employee's portion as well as not paying his portion. Thanks for pointing out my lack of specificity.Ronwell

jackpot 7 years ago

Reminds me of L.P.C. I had a pizza on order they called me and said KDOR was shutting them done. They never reopened.

smerdyakov 7 years ago

Anyone who knew an employee from Keno's could have seen this coming a mile away. Read some of the comments here from the employees. His own words in this story also indicate his maturity level -- he's blaming one of his employees for his financial problems. Laughable -- and pathetic.

BrianR 7 years ago

Johnny's Tavern has the best pizza in Lawrence.

Sigmund 7 years ago

more_cowbell (Anonymous) says: "The restaurant business is notoriously difficult, as the overall turnover on Mass. AND elsewhere demonstrates."True enough. Did you ever notice when you eat at a buffet (Indian, Chinese, whatever) and pay by credit card or by check the cashier rings a sale into the register, but when you pay with cash they ring "No Sale?" It is almost universally true and happens almost invariably. Ever wonder why? I bet the KDOR, IRS, and any accountant can tell you.

sairad 7 years ago

I can't say I am surprised. I worked there for two years in the late 90's. I left shortly after the second time in the same month that tax agents came and took all the money and shut us down for the day. Between that, and the paychecks that bouced half of the time, I took it as a sign that maybe I should move on. I was told by the "management" at the time (in 1998) that they owed back taxes because they skipped paying them in Lawrence and Overland Park one year to finance the opening of a new store in the River Market, KCMO. I don't know that as a fact, it is just what I was told as an employee when they seized funds. My annual Social Security earnings report still shows an entire year of no earnings whatsoever: one of the years I was employeed at PK. I just assumed things had gotten better because business seemed so good. Papa Keno's was a fun place, and I love the food, but I'm not at all surprised this has happened from the experiences I've personally had and numerous the stories I've heard while working for Greg. But its still sad. I'm not a big Greg Keenan fan, but I hope he gets this worked out.

Bossa_Nova 7 years ago

what caused all of this is when the KDOR agents got the munchies and unassumingly went in there last week late after hours hustlin Keenan for some "free pizza or else". when Keenan refused to play their dangerous game they shut him down. so let that be a message to all of you restaurant owners, "unless you want to end up like Keenan, give those KDOR agents all the free food they ask for even if it's after hours". i know, i know, that sounded retarded, but i just had to post it.

acg 7 years ago

Are you forgetting the employer's portion of withholding taxes, ron? That's roughly, what, 7.65% of every dollar paid to an employee that's paid into FICA and MCare, above and beyond the wages. Unemployment taxes, state and fed, are also employer contributions and are not withheld from employee wages. Depending upon what a person's unemployment rating is, that can be a steep bill, as well. True, it's only paid on the first $8000 an employee earns, but take it from a person who does tons of payroll, it adds up, quickly.

TriSigmaKS 7 years ago

It's ABOUT time! Back in college it was an amazing place, but ever since I moved back here (after being gone 10 years) the quality was CRAP, on numerous occasions their ice machine was out, gone or 'repossessed' as one employee told me, glad they got what they deserved.

Burton 7 years ago

So the KC locations are still open then? I wonder if the Missouri Department of Revenue reads LJ World?

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