The Georgia Department of Revenue raided three Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurants in the metro Atlanta area – midtown Atlanta, Lithonia and south west Atlanta located at 3752 Cascade Road. A warrant has been issued for her son, Shanga Hankerson, the owner of the chains bearing the music legend and Empress of Soul’s name.
Agent Josh Waites tells media, “Shanga’s accused of stealing over 650,000 in both sales and withholding tax. (With) penalties and interest, it’s up to over $1 million owed. We’ve had over two dozen payment plans with him and he’s defaulted on every single one.”
Hankerson is the son of her ex-husband music producer and manager Barry Hankerson. They were married from 1974-81.
Customers were kicked out of the restaurant during the raid as agents walked out with files, computers and the contents found in safes.
Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson says her office has filed a civil anti-racketeering suit to seize assets to recoup the owed taxes. Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken and Waffles has a business office in Clayton County.
Back in February 2016, Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken and Waffles located at 529 Peachtree Street in midtown Atlanta failed its health inspection. The restaurant got a 56. Earlier this month, the score was 90 once every violation was addressed and fixed.
“Gladys Knight lent her name to her son’s restaurants in the Atlanta area, similar to a celebrity endorsement,” Laura Herlovich, a spokesperson for Knight, says in a statement to USA TODAY. “Ms. Knight was not involved in any way with the operation of the restaurants and she is sure that her son and his business partners will rectify the situation. As always, her main concern is for her family’s well-being and she is making sure the family has the guidance they need to assess the situation and move forward.”
The restaurants are currently closed.