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Delgado’s Third Street bars delinquent on city sales taxes

Downtown nightclub owner John Delgado owes the city-parish an estimated $30,000 in back taxes for his three Third Street bars—Draft House Bar, Huey’s Bar and 1913.

The former Metro Council member confirms he is behind on his city-parish sales taxes but says he’s confident he will be able to pay the debt off before the end of the year. If not, he faces revocation of his liquor license. Delgado is among nine restaurant and bar owners scheduled to appear at a tax hearing Thursday before the East Baton Rouge Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Delgado is also behind on his state sales taxes but says the state has a monthly payment plan, enabling him to chip away at that tab.

“The city doesn’t have that option,” he says. “If they had a payment plan, we’d be on it and we’d be paying.”

Delgado blames the delinquency—which he estimates totals around $30,000, most of which he says is interest and penalties—on a couple of factors: sluggish summer sales, particularly on Third Street downtown, and market oversaturation.

“I think it’s a matter of proliferation,” he says. “You’ve had a lot of new options pop up. But Third Street is definitely slow.”

Delgado would not say whether the recent business downturn is causing problems with other monthly obligations, such as rent. But he confirms he is in discussions with the Lafayette-based property owners of 421 Third St., which is home to Draft House Bar.

“We are in the process of discussing whether we stay in that location with the landlord,” he says. “But that is an ongoing business discussion and not something I want to comment on right now.”

Thursday’s hearing before the ABC is a continuation of a preliminary hearing that was held in August. At that time, nearly 60 bars appeared before the parish agency. Since then, all but 12 establishments, including Delgado’s three, have paid their city tax bill.

At Thursday’s hearing the ABC board could revoke Delgado’s license or agree to give him until the end of the year to pay his back taxes. He says he does not expect the board to pull his liquor license. Should it come to that, however, he says, “We’d go get a loan to pay the back taxes.”

—Stephanie Riegel

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