New controversy for Round the Clock Diners, this time over COVID-19 aid
The owners of a local diner chain in York County are facing flak online for accepting at least $500,000 in federal COVID-19 aid before violating Gov. Tom Wolf's closure orders.
Round the Clock Diner, with locations in Manchester Township and Springettsbury Township, is being criticized by Facebook users who said that it's unfair the owners of both diners were approved in April for COVID-19 aid through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and before reopening in defiance of Wolf's orders in May.
"I feel bad for anyone out of work who spent money at this place while they defied the public health ordinance. At the same time they were picking our pockets in PPP loans that other small business never received," said Jerry Drake, who started a thread on Facebook discussing the situation.
As of Monday, the thread had more than 1,000 comments from people on both sides of the debate.
According to the Small Business Administration database, Round the Clock filed for one loan at each of its locations, at 222 Arsenal Road and 145 Memory Lane.
Round the Clock's location in Manchester Township was approved for a loan of between $350,000 to $1 million, according to the SBA. Its Springettsbury Township location was approved for a loan of between $150,000 to $350,000.
Both were approved April 10.
Themi Sacarellos, the owner of Round the Clock Diner, told The York Dispatch on Monday that the Arsenal Road location received $359,200 and the Memory Lane location received $186,300.
"As usual, Facebook comments tend to be made without all the facts being known," Sacarellos said via email. "Round the Clock Diner did not violate any procedures in applying for, obtaining or disbursing these loans obtained through the Paycheck Protection Program."
Sacarellos said while both diners were classified as "essential" and therefore permitted to be open for carryout, the Memory Lane location was "entirely closed" for six weeks, putting 60 people out of work
During this time, Round the Clock applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, he added.
"So basically these 'patriots' decided to take a nice suckle off of the government’s teat before deciding that it was time to stand up against the same government’s oppression?" commented Facebook user Jason Snyder under the thread Drake started.
While some are claiming the owners are hypocrites, others argued that the loans would eventually be paid back and that the owners are entitled to the compensation plan because Round the Clock is a small business.
The loans, under PPP, are largely forgivable.
Initially, businesses had to use 75% of the funds to cover payroll costs for full forgiveness. That has since been lowered to 60% under the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act passed last month.
Others chose to blame it on the Wolf administration.
"If you want to be mad at anyone you should be mad at whoever decided on who received these loans," Roxanne Richi said in the thread. "Be mad at the countless people that quit their jobs knowing they’d make more from unemployment instead of actually working. These are the things that need to be fixed in this country."
Demos Sacarellos, son of Themi and spokesperson for the restaurants, told The York Dispatch back in May that Round the Clock Diner operated "within our constitutional rights" after defying Wolf's closure orders.
"We're not committing crimes here; we're just trying to feed people and support the local economy," Demos Sacarellos said. "It's not a rebellion. It's just business as usual."
The Sacarellos were fined by the state for continuing to operate even after warnings and suspensions of their licenses.
— Reach Tina Locurto at email@example.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.