Heidi's gets dinged in state's latest liquor posting; Stewart Woodman responds

Heidi's, the latest victim of the Department of Revenue's monthly liquor posting
Heidi's, the latest victim of the Department of Revenue's monthly liquor posting

When the state of Minnesota's Department of Revenue posted its latest monthly list of bars and restaurants that are allegedly delinquent in their tax payments, it included one surprising entry: Heidi's, the Lyndale Avenue hot spot known for its refined dining and seasonal craft cocktail list.

The state's monthly liquor posting can be onerous for a bar or restaurant, because three days after it makes the list, the business is banned from making further beer and liquor purchases until the dispute has been resolved. Liquor distributors are forbidden to sell to any establishment that has been on the list for more than the three-day period. That, of course, means that once the business's liquor well runs dry, it is no longer able to serve alcoholic beverages.

According to Heidi's chef and owner Stewart Woodman, the whole thing is a mix-up on the part of the state. He says his restaurant has gone above and beyond in making timely tax payments. We spoke with chef Woodman about his current tax dilemma.

A somewhat blurry tax statement courtesy of chef Stewart Woodman shows a zero-dollar tax balance
A somewhat blurry tax statement courtesy of chef Stewart Woodman shows a zero-dollar tax balance

Heidi's wasn't the only Minneapolis restaurant to make the "no sell" list; it also included El Paraiso, La Que Buena, and Dulono's Pizza. But Heidi's was the most prominent name.

According to Woodman, "Heidi [Woodman's wife, co-owner, and restaurant namesake] spoke with the state today, but we are trying to understand why we are posted, as we are 100 percent current. We overpaid our sales tax for the last five years. When we made a claim, we were audited, and now this."

The statute responsible for the monthly liquor posting states that, "At least 10 days before notifying the commissioner of public safety [the person in charge of publishing the list], the commissioner shall notify the taxpayer of the intended action".

It also states that, "Beginning the third business day after the list is posted, no wholesaler, manufacturer, or brewer may sell or deliver any product to a taxpayer included on the posted list."

According to this month's posting, Heidi's was listed on the 12th of the month, which means its liquor-purchasing capabilities ended on the 15th. According to Woodman, the state didn't give the advanced warning as required by law, but the consequences of the state's actions could result in substantial monetary loses for the business. If it is deemed a mistake, it will take at least several days to correct. If they are able to resolve the issue, the information has two business days to make it back to the commissioner of public safety in order for the listing to be removed. 

In a more elaborate statement, chef Woodman had this to say:

It is with not a small amount of disgust that I learned today that Heidi's was posted.

A few weeks ago we filed with the State that we had overpaid on our state sales tax for the last five years by nearly 10 thousand dollars (we could not go back to the first two years of business and claim that overpayment -- but we claimed for the last three years of overpayment).

We were, of course, told that by filling a claim we would be audited. That audit has yet to be finished, but we anticipate that we are owed about 4 thousand dollars.

Yesterday however we find out that Heidi's has been posted for underpayment of taxes.  Are you kidding me? Is this a joke we asked ourselves.

Heidi immediately called the State, and they told us a clerical error had obviously been made, as they could clearly verify that we have a zero balance.  But the right person was unavailable to give us any explanation of why we were posted, and that we needed to talk to that person in "posting." "You can call tomorrow."

It is sickening that such an action could be taken with erroneous information. This is a challenging environment to do business, made more so by false and mistaken information being publicized.

It's disheartening that such an obviously error-prone system is in place, and that those who have been diligent in tax payment could be caught up in this mess."

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Heidi's - Closed

2903 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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