More details have emerged regarding the sudden closure of Serj Books, the eccentric coffee shop and bookstore in downtown Dallas: Owner John Walsh has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and is being held on a $100,000 bond at Lew Sterrett Justice Center.
According to Dallas County records, Walsh was arrested on June 8 at 9:25 pm — two days after the bookstore closed its doors, and 14 hours after the store posted a notice on its Facebook page announcing that "it was time for a break."
Downtown regulars who picked up coffee every day were dismayed to find the shop shuttered in early June without warning or notice. The only thing on the door was a note informing customers of a change in hours, closing at 2 pm every day instead of 3 pm.
Meanwhile, local, independent vendors — the last people you want to exploit — had not been paid for up to 90 days.
Kelly Ball, owner of Naturally Curly Cook, a baker that supplied Serj with pastries, had not been paid for a month.
"I was making deliveries three days a week, and frequently had trouble getting paid, so I asked to get paid weekly," Ball says. "It was expensive to continue supplying the store when invoices were going a month or two behind."
Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters, the small-batch coffee roaster and retailer that had supplied Serj with coffee beans, had not been paid for at least 90 days.
"We'd worked with Serj for years, and they were always slow to pay, but they recently began amassing a large balance due," says Noble co-owner Marta Sprague. "We finally got a check, but when we cashed it, we learned that John had closed the account. So in addition to not getting paid, we also incurred bank fees."
Deep Vellum Books, the independent bookstore in Deep Ellum that had supplied Serj with a stock of books, recently went into the coffee shop and removed all of its merchandise.
Walsh opened Serj on St. Paul Street in 2015 with partner Anne Holcomb, described at the time as his wife. Sources who asked not to be named say that the couple broke up in early June. Holcomb was unavailable for comment.