Since its grand opening in 1997, Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles has been a hit among gourmands. Though the restaurant chain bears the name of R&B legend Gladys Knight, it is a venture headed up by her restaurateur son (with music man Barry Hankerson), Shanga Hankerson. Hankerson launched Gladys Knight Chicken & Waffles Concepts (which also includes Gladys Knight’s & Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles) in homage to his mother’s legacy and the food he grew up eating. However, it appears that Hankerson wasn’t holding down the name like it seemed he was. Goldie Taylor of the Daily Beast reports that Hankerson is a wanted man, facing criminal and civil charges, due to his faulty business practices.
On Tuesday, law enforcement raided and padlocked three Gladys Knight Chicken & Waffles locations in the metro Atlanta area. According to the Georgia tax office, Hankerson owes an excess of $1 million in back taxes. Taylor writes, “The problem allegedly started after Hankerson failed to remit sales taxes and employee payroll withholdings, totaling an estimated $650,000.” The charges imposed on Hankerson include theft, theft by conversion and tax evasion.
Gladys Knight is in the clear. She lent her son a celebrity endorsement and allowed him to use her name and likeness for the restaurant, but Knight is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the eatery.
This is the latest blow to Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles. Recently, the restaurant made headlines when it failed a health inspection. In regard to Tuesday’s events, the restaurant will only be closed temporarily. The locations will re-open under state receivership.