Le petite cuisine re-opens
Owner makes good on her back taxes; cites support from community
Photo by Roger Gavan From left, La Petite Cuisine owner Jennifer Haesche with a friend and strong supporter Diane Kelsser. After a brief closure as a result of a New York State Tax Department order and the issue now resolved, the popular indoor/outdoor cafÈ at 20 Railroad Ave. reopened for business as usual on Saturday, Aug. 17.
WARWICK — Le Petite Cuisine reopened its doors on Saturday after being shut down by the New York State Tax Department and people once again flocked to the popular eatery.
“I won’t blame sales tax people for something I’m at fault for,” said Jen Haesche who was behind in paying her sales tax and had to make restitution before she was allowed to reopen, “but the way it was done.”
Haesche said she would have preferred a warning not to open until restitution was made rather than have agents and police storm the eatery full of patrons and begin changing the locks in the middle of the busiest time of the day.
“I got pushed around, but I got up,” she said.
Her message to other local businesses struggling to stay afloat is: “Don’t give up.’”
After Le Petite Cuisine was closed, several other local businesses such as Little Anthony’s Pizzeria and the Hidden Valley Tavern were shut down in the same manner and also for failure to pay sales tax.
Most local people were supportive and posted notes on the closed restaurant offering support and encouragement. Mayor Michael Newhard was supportive and encouraging and Haesche was touched by the caring spirit and generosity of the community.
She said she was moved that they reached out to her after she had been supportive of the community to which she feels strongly a part of as a member of the Merchants Guild for three years.
Several people made blog comments on the Web version of The Warwick Advertiser’s story that people who don’t pay their sales tax deserve what happens to them. They also criticized Haesche for being portrayed as a victim.
Haesche said she fully accepted the responsibility publicly that she owed money and will now be more diligent about “dotting her I’s and crossing her t’s” and has a good accountant and lawyer.
Her concern was the way in which her restaurant was closed after a first offense and that it is so easy to have finances snowball in small businesses.
Haesche said she believes that these are tough times for all small businesses and that compassion in the wake of a poor economy and storms that wreaked havoc in the region can go a long way.
For the next six weeks she will focus on her own business and was advised by her lawyer and accountant to do so.
As far as advocacy for other businesses, she advises get a lawyer and do what you need to do and “cherish the friends you have; you never know when you will need them.”
By Vicki Botta
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