The fine dining restaurant accused of paying vendors and more than a dozen employees with bounced checks announced they had closed Wednesday morning after about five months operating downtown, according to an Instagram post.

Zander’s restaurant, housed in the historic Alexander Brown Building, opened Dec. 8 with plans to renovate the 16,000- square-foot space into an “old-school American steakhouse” with a “Great Gatsby” theme, according to a previous interview with the restaurant’s owner and executive chef, Brendon Hudson. In announcing the restaurant’s closure, Hudson cited the last lines of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” he wrote on the company’s social media.

The restaurant is the second within Hudson’s burgeoning Liliahna Hospitality Group to close in the last year. The group has been sued for failing to pay back creditors in New York. A landlord, a wine vendor and a flooring company in Baltimore filed lawsuits alleging they are also owed money for missing payments associated with Hudson’s now shuttered Italian eatery, Vellegias, in the Cross Street Market, according to court records.

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Zander’s was also the second Liliahna Hospitality restaurant to be accused of not paying their workers, with multiple employees of his Roman bistro, Allora, alleging they went without consistent pay while at the business. Both Allora in Mount Vernon and his coffee shop Piccola Allora near Johns Hopkins University remain open.

Former manager of Zander’s Annie Conner, who quit the restaurant in February over missing pay, said the news left her disappointed for the employees she had hired and “promised a good opportunity.” Conner hoped to see the restaurant grow and pay her former coworkers fairly over time, but felt her hopes were dashed on Wednesday.

“Part of me feels like I failed,” she said, adding that she felt the owners had also failed her. “That space meant so much to me.”

Hudson’s spokeswoman, Lauren Walbert, said she did not have further information at the time of the announcement, as she was initially unaware Hudson had posted the news to the restaurant’s private Instagram page. Shortly after, she shared a screenshot.

The owners of Zander’s restaurant downtown took to Instagram Wednesday to announce the eatery had closed. (Spokeswoman Lauren Walbert/Spokeswoman for Hudson Lauren Walbert)

On Wednesday afternoon, Hudson did not answer questions about why he decided to close the restaurant or whether the business will be able to pay remaining employees.

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“Our team worked hard since December to make this new fine dining option in Downtown Baltimore work, but ultimately had to make the decision to close,” he said in a statement

The restaurant offered a fine dining lunch and dinner experience for guests Wednesday through Sunday, including six different cuts of beef costing up to $130 for a 36-ounce dry aged French ribeye. Hudson also served oysters, shrimp cocktail and three traditional Italian pasta dishes from lobster fra diavolo to cacio e pepe.

In the Instagram post, Hudson referred to the restaurant’s brief tenure as a “short time, but a great time.”

He previously said the restaurant was part of an effort to revive downtown’s fine dining scene. But within two weeks of opening, employees complained of missing pay. As service at the restaurant continued, 13 employees accused Hudson of paying them with bounced checks and late wire transfers through both professional and personal accounts on mobile payment apps.

A Baltimore Banner investigation discovered the checks were either flagged as fraudulent or for insufficient funds. At least six workers told The Baltimore Banner they are still in debt after depositing Hudson’s payments. All the workers said they were living paycheck to paycheck, and while trying to untangle their finances, claimed they went unable to afford either rent, groceries or other basic necessities, according to a report published last week.

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At least one employee has filed complaints against Liliahna Hospitality to the IRS and Maryland Department of Labor.

The issues with paying employees continued through March and extended to difficulties paying vendors, according to messages obtained by former managers of the restaurant. Former Zander’s manager Joe Colona told the Baltimore Banner Hudson still owed him more than $4,000 in wages.

Hudson responded to the allegations emerging out of Zander’s, saying that while it’s not his intention “to screw anyone over,” the industry is not for everybody and “growth can be messy.”

“My biggest concern was just making sure everyone got their pay on time and I didn’t fully think through the rest of the plan,” he said in the previous report, adding that he had issued new checks to employees who had their payments flagged as fraudulent and paid back employees when the business account had insufficient funds. All requests for missing tax documents were rectified, he said, despite multiple employees alleging they are still missing W-2 tax forms and pay stubs.

Hudson denied knowing of any outstanding debts on April 10 and said he had arranged a payment plan with Colona. In the following week, Colona said he had no contact with Hudson since March 27, after Hudson failed to pay the first installment of the missing wages. Since then, Colona said, Hudson has missed the following two scheduled payments, on March 29 and April 12, and had not reached out to set up a new plan.

He says he’s still waiting.

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