Jacquelyn Keefer says there are several issues that have led to her being almost $28,000 behind in state sales taxes for her Lotus Leaf Cafe in Old Town, but there’s one thing she wants everyone to know.
“I don’t blame any of this on anybody else. This is just us struggling, and we’re going to pull through and get to the other side.”
The restaurant, which started in Delano and moved to near the southwest corner of Second and Washington a year and a half ago, will celebrate five years in business on Thursday.
“I just need to work on getting more people in the door,” Keefer says.
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She says lunches are good but dinners aren’t.
Keefer says her first priority is to take care of her employees.
“I always make sure that everybody here is paid before anything else.”
Next-door neighbor Taste & See also is almost $24,000 behind in taxes (Have You Heard? Oct. 1). Keefer says she doesn’t think there’s an issue with that part of Old Town, though she says parking can be a problem for her restaurant.
“There’s never any parking out in front of it,” she says. “It’s always filled with the other businesses that work around here. When people drive in, they think we’re all full.”
Keefer says she doesn’t owe everything the state shows her owing because she’s been paying double sales tax for some items due to how her accountant’s staff input her information.
“So I have a year’s worth of receipts to go through.”
She says she’s already paid $2,400 of the almost $28,000, and she expects another $3,600 to $4,600 to be taken off what she owes because of the duplication.
“The biggest part of it is … it’s so hard to transition to this larger place and then letting people in town know about us,” Keefer says.
“It was a rough start,” she says. “It’s been a rough year for restaurants in general.”
Lotus Leaf focuses on what Keefer calls “as much super foods as possible” and ingredients that are hormone, antibiotic and preservative free. Keefer says she also tries to minimize sugar, and what sugar she uses is organic.
Keefer says she wants diners to leave feeling better after eating instead of having a “bogged down” feeling.
“It’s kind of feeding them on a cellular level.”
Though she says it’s been tough, Keefer says, “I love it, and I don’t want to let it go. I feel like Wichita needs it. I really feel like they need this food.”