Restaurateur Thom Pham faces felony charges due to $30,000 of bad checks written to A-Z Restaurant Equipment of Princeton, according to a complaint filed in Mille Lacs County. When Pham failed to appear for a court appearance, an arrest warrant was issued.
Pham, a high-profile restaurateur in the Twin Cities, owns Thanh Do in St. Louis Park. His previous restaurants include Wondrous Azian Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, which opened in 2010 and closed unexpectedly this week; Azia, which closed in August 2010 after a seven-year run at 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue S., and Temple, a high-end restaurant and bar in downtown Minneapolis, which was open from December 2006 to April 2008.
In an interview about the legal issues, Pham said, "We're working on it and hopefully we will get it taken care of."
When asked about the charges, Pham said, "I do all the books now, but back in the day we had bookkeepers doing different things, and I wasn't aware of that until, like I say, recently. We're working on it and I'm sure we're going to make good on it. I went to Vietnam in June to visit my sick mother, and then I came back and moved, so I've been playing catchup. During that time I missed a lot of mail so I'm sure that's the loss of communication.
"We've scheduled a meeting and hopefully we will resolve it within a week," Pham said.
A new restaurant, Azian Market Bar & Restaurant, is scheduled to open later in the fall, but Pham said he is not the owner of that restaurant.
"I'm going to help with the concept, but no, I'm not the owner. I sold it to Mike [Stebnitz]. He's a friend; he was my original business partner at Azia."
Pham owes $218,819.10 in unpaid civil judgments, according to court records. Three of his former restaurants had their permits to collect sales tax revoked by the Minnesota Department of Revenue in 2010 and 2011 after the businesses failed to pay $164,927.26 in sales tax owed to the state.
Jane Friedmann contributed to this report. Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @ricknelsonstrib Follow Lee Svitak Dean on Twitter:@stribtaste