Italian Restaurant Avoids $10K In Coronavirus Fines

The Italian restaurant Taste of Sicily recently made headlines in winning its case against Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf after being fined $10k for refusing to follow COVID-19 shutdown regulations. This started when the restaurant opened to full capacity back in May during the yellow phase of Gov. Wolf’s restrictions citing financial struggles. 

“We were absolutely ecstatic. You know a lot of people said a lot of different things about Taste of Sicily. We were selfish. All we cared about was business and money and it’s like we need to make a living,” said restaurant co-owner Mike Mangano.

Mangano goes on to explain that the family had great support from the local level elected officials and needed to reopen in order to save the business. Their first citation noted that masks and social distancing were not required in the restaurant and they didn’t have plexiglass barriers.

“We don’t care what the repercussions may be. We want the world to see how ridiculous it is for being penalized to go to work. Nobody’s asking business owners to take up arms or go to war. Open your doors already,” said Mangano. 

When refusing to service at half-capacity or force customers to wear masks, the Department of Agriculture served the restaurant several more fines, one amounting to $4,000. A clip even shows Mangano’s sister and restaurant co-owner, Christina Wartluft, following the inspectors to the car and asking why they are giving hard-working people a fine. She also got emotional in another video and told viewers how frustrated she was with the state’s unjust treatment of business owners who are trying to feed their families. She said she would be challenging the restaurant’s fines in court.

Mangano’s attorney Winter shared that Taste of Sicily has no plans to shut down or pay their legal fines. He added that the Department of Agriculture tried to cite the restaurant for things they couldn’t lawfully cite them for and are legally unenforceable. Judge Garvey ruled the family business was unconstitutionally cited and the restaurant is currently waiting for a hearing date against the Department of Agriculture. 

Gov. Wolf recently announced that he plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. He relates the coronavirus upsurge to restaurants and bars being open and shares that he is trying to address the challenge with this pandemic.

“Some rob you with a gun, while others rob you with a pen. We ain’t paying crap,” said Mangano.