When we saw KPRC's story on employees of the two-month-old Beer Nation complaining about bounced paychecks, we were curious about general manager Larry Kakos' claim that the joint was the first restaurant its unnamed Michigan-based owners ran.
Besides being a weird excuse, it's the kind of thing that could be easily verified, and as it turns out, the man behind Beer Nation owned a restaurant called Jumpers Bar & Grill in Noblesville, Indiana, which was briefly rechristened as Pin Ups Sports Bar & Grill before it shuttered in November 2016. (According to a comment posted on the pub's Facebook page, bounced checks were a problem there as well).
Scott Hait of Michigan formed Jumpers/Pin Ups and another Indiana entity called Koozies Bar and Grill in August 2015. Hait and one of his companies, Ripped T Shirt, LLC, were sued in February 2016 by Jumpers/Pin Ups' landlord. Although Indiana court records show that the parties reached an agreed settlement in February 2017, Hait's attorney for the Indiana litigation, Michael Michmerhuizen, told the Houston Press he couldn't comment because the case was still pending.
Hait did not respond to multiple requests for comment. His attorney in Houston, Trent Stephenson, asked the Press to email questions, but would only answer one question, confirming that Hait is Beer Nation's sole owner.
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Ripped T Shirt and other Hait-controlled entities were among a host of co-defendants in an October 2016 lawsuit filed by a court-appointed receiver in Michigan, according to state and federal court records. Hait was accused of conspiring with others in an alleged money-laundering scheme in which the co-defendants created shell companies to hide money from creditors. As part of a March 2017 agreed settlement, Hait and his co-defendants agreed to pay $200,000 to the receiver.
It's unclear how Kakos, also from Michigan, was tapped to manage Beer Nation — beyond identifying himself as a "directing manager" for Hait, Kakos did not respond to requests for comment. But his social media pages, as well as court records, show that he formerly managed strip clubs in Michigan. (On a related note, Beer Nation's site states that it's "nice" if applicants for a waitress position have a "great body.")
It's also unclear how this cash-flow problem will affect the restaurant's plans to open a 10,000-square-foot concert hall on the same property. Kakos told Press contributor Cuc Lam in April that the space, with a 500-person capacity, was projected to open within 90-180 days.
"We want to bring bands like Puddle of Mudd and Sponge here," Kakos said then. We've got our fingers crossed.