200 Restaurants Announce 'Revolution,' Openly Defy Gov's Shutdown Orders


After growing tired of watching elected officials demand they operate at a capacity that is unsustainable for food service locations, 200 restaurateurs in Pennsylvania are staging a revolt.

In an audacious plan, the restaurant owners intend to save their businesses by opening at a larger capacity, with some added safety measures.

KDKA-TV reported the so-called restaurant revolution began Friday with dozens of restaurants opening at more than 25 percent capacity in defiance of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders.

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The movement encourages restaurants to ignore the state’s mandate that food service businesses operate at no more than one-quarter capacity.

The participating restaurants will instead further open their dining rooms by using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Attorney Gary Scoulos, who represents the Southwestern Pennsylvania Restaurant and Tavern Association, said his clients will ignore limits issued by the Wolf administration and instead follow CDC guidelines.

Scoulos told KDKA that the restaurants will be open in the same manner that nationwide retail chains are open.

Do you support the "restaurant revolution" in Pennsylvania?

“Those in the association say they are just as essential as stores like Target, Walmart and Giant Eagle,” the attorney said, adding that restaurants have been “bullied” and “want their rights back.”

“Because of financial desperation they wanted to do what they wanted to do and needed to do to survive,” he said.

“Currently, the 25 percent is unworkable,” Scoulos told the outlet.

“Economically, it doesn’t make any sense to open the business,” he said.

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Wolf has said he will not rescind the order.

Additionally, Allegheny County health officials told KDKA they will ensure restaurants that open up to 100 percent capacity are cited.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has made the same promise.

But the threat of facing fines will not deter some businesses.

Scoulos said many restaurant owners are willing to take a chance just to try to stay afloat.

“So we might do it, not everybody, every restaurant, diner, caterer, bar, tavern — they have to make their own decisions,” he said.

On the so-called green phase in Pennsylvania, Wolf’s website outlines the restrictions on business.

“Reaching the green phase is a real victory. When put to the test, we are proving our resilience. But we aren’t going back to the way things were before. Now is the time to stay alert so we can keep COVID-19 contained,” it says.

The directive adds, “Restaurants and bars can open indoor dining, up to 25% occupancy.”

The CDC guidelines offer restaurants a bit more wiggle room.

In addition to outlining certain risks and their respective mitigation factors, the federal health agency says of indoor dining that business should require “the use of cloth face coverings among all staff, as feasible.”

“Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. Information should be provided to staff on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings,” it says.

The CDC further advises physical distancing between patrons and advises hygiene and training for restaurant staff, masks, hand washing and signage to remind guests of the measures they can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.