Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food restaurant owner turns over tax records

ST. PETERSBURG — The owner of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food has complied with a city agreement to turn over tax records showing sales at the restaurant in the city-owned Manhattan Casino.

The information is needed to calculate whether the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions, headed by Larry Newsome, owes the city more than the $3,000 monthly base rent. Newsome must pay the city 5 percent of monthly sales above $83,333.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday that UDS had refused to turn over December's information because the firm did not want the newspaper to obtain the records through a public information request.

The city received December's filing Wednesday morning.

Sales dropped from $122,708 in November to $90,462 in December, records show. Even with the 26 percent drop, taxpayers still collected $356 on top of the restaurant's base rent. In November, the restaurant paid $1,969 in additional rent based on strong sales.

The tax forms are exempt from public disclosure when sent to the state Department of Revenue. However, Newsome agreed to give the city a copy of the form along with his monthly rent.

The firm filed November's form last week but refused to file December's since the newspaper had been asking for the information. City staffers urged Newsome to comply with the deal he signed.

Sylvia's opened Nov. 9 amid fanfare in Midtown. Officials and residents hailed the restaurant as a possible spark to ignite future growth in the city's poorest area.

Taxpayers have spent $3.1 million on renovations to the Manhattan Casino since 2005. Sylvia's occupies the building's first floor and a banquet hall occupies the second.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter @markpuente.

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