Attorney: Teppanyaki Buffet raids focused on tax, employment records

Posted at 5:20 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 20:31:28-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- An attorney for a west side all-you-can eat buffet said Tuesday investigators are looking at the restaurant’s business and employment records, travel documents and tax records.

Todd Ess, an Indianapolis attorney, represents the Li brothers who own the Teppanyaki Grill and Buffet located on West 38th Street.

Although the search warrant served at the restaurant is still sealed, Ess said investigators provided the owners with paperwork indicating what they were removing from the restaurant, as well as the Li brothers' homes.

“It seems like it has to do with how the business is being run,” said Ess. “They seized a lot of property from my clients. They were looking for business records, travel documents, employment records; a lot of that kind of material related to the business”

Ess said authorities seized three vehicles and personal items from the Li brothers.

“That’s my immediate issue is getting their property back,” said Ess.

Ess said the search did not appear related to the food.

Search warrants were executed Thursday at two Teppanyaki Grill and Buffet locations in Marion County, one on West 38th Street and another on East Washington Street.

The 38th Street location was closed Thursday and Friday, and reopened Saturday.

Ess said the 38th Street restaurant is not connected to the other Teppanyaki restaurants throughout the state who also received search warrants.

“It’s not a franchise,” said Ess.  “There’s no association between them.”

CALL 6 | Teppanyaki Buffet manager: We didn't do anything wrong  | Search warrants executed at two restaurants in Marion County

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office would not confirm the purpose of the investigation; however Call 6 Investigates saw a police presence Thursday at the West 38th Street location as well as a locksmith entering the facility.

Indiana Secretary of State records show the 38th Street location was “voluntarily dissolved” and has remained inactive since April 2015, meaning they are not currently registered to do business with the state of Indiana.

A spokesperson for the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County said the warrants are not related to the health department or food inspections.

There are currently no open inspections or violations with either establishment, although both restaurants have previously been cited for critical violations involving food safety, including rodents.