All three Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles locations are closed after a raid by the Georgia Department of Revenue. Knight's son Shanga Hankerson was the target of the raid, reports Channel 2, and he's accused of "stealing over $650,000 in both sales and withholding tax."
A Department of Revenue official told Channel 2 Knight is not part of the investigation — "totally in the clear, nothing about her" — and no other employees are facing charges. Hankerson owns the restaurant chain, which has locations in Midtown, Lithonia Springs, and Southwest Atlanta. The official website portrays the chain as "a dream come true" for both Knight and Hankerson.
Gladys Knight, together with her son Shanga Hankerson, developed Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles Concepts featuring Gladys Knight's Signature Chicken & Waffles and Gladys Knight's & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles. Shanga's additional connection to the restaurant industry started very early when his father introduced him to working in a butcher shop in Detroit, Michigan. For a period of time, the family also had a restaurant and learned the pitfalls of owning a restaurant. The hard work in the butcher shop and the first experience of owning a restaurant did not deter Shanga. He continued to display a strong desire and passion to stay connected with restaurants. Shanga had a dream of starting his own restaurant some day — a restaurant that would serve the food that he had grown up with, while also adding to the legacy of his mother. Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles Concepts has proven to be a dream come true!
The restaurants reportedly could reopen as early as Thursday, under state control. A statement from a spokesperson provided to 11 Alive indicated Knight is focusing on her family.
Gladys Knight lent her name to her son's restaurants in the Atlanta area, similar to a celebrity endorsement. Ms. Knight was not involved in any way with the operation of the restaurants and she is sure that her son and his business partners will rectify the situation. As always, her main concern is for her family's well-being and she is making sure the family has the guidance they need to assess the situation and move forward.