Numbers Doom Starving Artist Cafe

You probably already know that Starving Artist Cafe, the North Little Rock restaurant that hosted the “Tales From the South” radio show, closed recently after almost nine years in business.

And may also know that the proprietors Paula Martin Morell and Jason Morell blamed a lack of business, saying on their Facebook page: “This is a very fickle business with a very slim profit margin, and just a few slow months can be irreversible. We tried to stick it out, but with business steadily declining over the past year, it all came to a head last week and we had to make the very difficult decision to close.”

Your Whispers staff works to bring you the numbers behind the news, even when the news is sad, as it certainly was in this case. The restaurant, located as it was at 411 Main St., had become a big part of Argenta nightlife and featured tons of artwork by local artists. (“Tales of the South” will now move to the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library.)

The state Department of Finance & Administration listed the restaurant among the closures on the business closures notification page of the agency’s website. Act 360 of 2009 allows the department to close any business that fails to remit withholding taxes for any three months during a 24-month period.

It cited Starving Artist twice, once for failure to remit withholding and once for failure to remit sales taxes. A DF&A spokesman said it couldn’t disclose the amount of withholding the restaurant had failed to remit, but that the agency had filed a tax lien of $11,754 for the restaurant’s failure to remit sales taxes for October, November and December 2013.

Tax receipt figures from the city of North Little Rock showed that Starving Artist had done $420,476 in business in 2013, $454,369 in 2012 and $460,900 in 2011.