Young and Hungry

Cafe Green and Java Green Owe More Than $133,000 in D.C. Taxes

The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue has suspended operations at vegan restaurants Cafe Green and Java Green.

Eater got ahold of Cafe Green manager Wes Rubbin yesterday, who said the restaurants needed $40,000 to reopen. Lien documents from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue reveal they owe $133,344 (including penalties and interest). The restaurants have been behind on their taxes since May 2011.

In order to reopen, Java Green and Cafe Green were soliciting donations yesterday on their website, which has since been shut down. They were offering patrons 5 percent discounts for a year for $50 donations and 5 percent off for life for $100 donations. A note previously posted on the site read:

For the past few years Java Green and Cafe Green have struggled to keep our doors open through the recession. Though we have made some headway, as far as the DC Tax Office is concerned, we have not been able to provide them with the amounts they have expected of us. In effect, we have had to state our temporary closing until we can meet the DC Governments expectations.

With that said, in order to stay open and provide you with the healthful vegan dining experience you've grown to love, we are going to need a little help from our community. Any donation that you can make is very appreciated and will be going directly towards our efforts to open our doors to you.

No one is answering the phone at either location, and owner DJ Kim has not yet responded to Y&H's e-mails. A handwritten note on the door at Cafe Green reads: "We apologize for any inconvenience—Cafe Green will be closed until further notice."

UPDATE: The Java Green/Cafe Green website is back up and soliciting donations from the homepage.

Photo by Jessica Sidman

  • Dan Riley

    Vegans are such deadbeats ;)

  • Mary Finelli

    Sure, Dan, as if only vegan businesses get behind on taxes.
    You sound very open-minded - NOT.

  • Begla

    He's kidding.

  • Nabobolink

    Perhaps they should hire an accountant. Of course, by now a tax lawyer would be useful.

  • Sharon

    Sad to read this, as I loved going to Java Green when I worked near the restaurant. It was always very crowded so I'm surprised to hear that they struggled to keep their doors open. DJ Kim is great, and had given me gift certificates to use for a nonprofit fundraiser I was volunteering with. Hard to expect them to pay their taxes if they can't operate. I'm sure if they were open and people knew of their problems that they would get lots of customers who would give money when they visited. They would be able to hold fundraisers. Doesn't make sense to close them yet expect them to pay taxes. Can't they have a payment plan so that they can stay open? We need to support small businesses, especially during challenging economic times. I don't know of other vegan restaurants in the area, and we need to keep them open. Even my non-vegetarian co-workers loved the food.

  • Katherine Allergra

    If they want donations maybe they should explain WHY they haven't paid taxes in over a year? I for one would not be inclined to donate money to a business that seems to be run by incompetents.

  • Mark

    Where I come from when you collect sales taxes and you don't forward the money to the city, it is called stealing.

  • Yo

    meh... I used to work there. The owner is blaming the recession for his debt - good one. I can guarantee you it's not the recession that's at fault... A good manager can make a restaurant run in a recession. A bad manager will have bad luck even when the economy is booming. Invest your donations elsewhere.

  • curls

    Website needs a whole lot more explanation to make sense. Recession was in 2007. By May 2011, the business should have been on even keel. It's not from the recession.

    So how much do they owe or need to open? Where's the evidence the money will go straight to DC taxes? (Like an escrow company). What have they been doing to make ends meet, on their end?

    They always had long, long lines, so what aspect caused the crunch? Less people? Higher grocery prices? Wages?

    They were always too expensive for me - but I'd go in for a very occasional treat (milkshake).

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