All three Parlor Pizza Bar locations are under investigation following Wednesday raids by Chicago police and Internal Revenue Service special agents in River North, West Loop, and Wicker Park. Officers were staked out at the three restaurants while they conducted an active investigation.
The IRS provided a statement to CBS 2 Chicago, which first reported the story, without specifying the reasons behind the raids, only mentioning that officials were on hand to investigate “potential violations” of the state tax act. Special agents turned aside workers who showed up for their shifts, according to CBS 2.
A large orange “off limits” sticker from the city’s building department was affixed to an entrance at the Wicker Park location, 1824 W. Division Street, as law enforcement agents attempted to gather evidence on Wednesday afternoon.
Parlor Pizza Bar’s first location opened in 2014 in West Loop, and owners Michael Bisbee and Tim Hendricks expanded to Wicker Park in 2016 and River North in 2018. The restaurant is family friendly during the day and becomes more of a night hotspot after sunset. Bisbee and Hendricks were also behind LGN Group, the company behind several popular night spots from the 2000s, including Manor, Cedar Hotel, and RiNo. All are closed.
Bisbee did not return a phone call from Eater Chicago seeking comment.
Chicago’s restaurant world haven’t seen raids like this since 2014 when IRS, Chicago police, and FBI agents shut down all of Tony Hu’s Chinese restaurants, including Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown. Hu, a trailblazing culinary ambassador who was given the nickname “Mayor of Chinatown,” spent a year in prison after pleading guilty to a variety of tax-related charges, but he has since resurfaced with several new restaurants.
A difference between the Hu and Parlor cases is that CBS 2 reports FBI weren’t involved in the pizzeria raids, though agents were present seven years ago at Hu’s restaurants.