Restaurant owners stand together, demand Gov. Wolf lift some restrictions

Restaurant owners stand together, demand Gov. Wolf lift some restrictions

BETHEL PARK, Pa. — In what’s being called a restaurant revolution, restaurant owners are standing together to get the attention of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf as they struggle to stay afloat amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Table after table after table is closed inside because of the 25 percent capacity limit. But now owners here and across the region say enough is enough they want the governor to hear their message loud and clear.

“We are missing out on so much revenue. They’re killing us,” said Stacey Finnegan, manager of Harry’s Pizza.

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They are down to nothing. You have to understand they are losing everything. bills keep piling up and nothing is coming in,” said Rod Ambrogi, owner of Al’s Café and president of the Southwest Pennsylvania Restaurant and Tavern Association.

Restaurant and bar owners and employees say they are at a breaking point, clinging onto their livelihoods and businesses. 

“We are doing everything they tell us to do but it’s hurting us,” Finnegan said.

More than 150 members and supporters of the Southwest Pennsylvania Restaurant and Tavern Association rallied outside Al’s Café in Bethel Park, protesting that governor wolf ease the restrictions. 

The association is drafting a letter to the governor, demanding what they believe are reasonable measures, including allowing alcohol to be served without a meal, allowing direct bar service and taking away the 25 percent capacity limit. Instead, just enforce the six feet rule. 

The group is also requesting a one-on-one conversation with governor wolf. 

“I feel it’s important to me to look someone in the eyes and explain my situation and understand where he is coming from,” Ambrogi said.

Wolf has called on Congress to offer help.

He said the state is targeting bars and restaurants after an increase in cases came from people ignoring requirements when visiting those establishments.  

But the association feels their recommendations preserve the public health and allows businesses to stay afloat. 

“Nobody wants to break the law. Everybody wants to do what’s right. They’re making it very hard,” Finnegan said.

Some politicians attended the rally in support.  

 “You can’t punish one industry to such an extent where there are hundreds of these places that will never be open again. Enough is enough,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta.

Dozens of politicians already sent a letter to the governor, a bipartisan effort requesting Wolf listen to this group, but Bartolotta said they haven’t heard back from the governor’s office yet. 

The association plans to send their letter out to the governor as soon as possible. They want an answer by Aug. 14. If not, they will get together again to discuss their next steps. 

Many local small businesses still struggling, asking for help during coronavirus pandemic