On Wednesday morning, Mike Glauda, the co-owner of Goodfellas bar in Mount Carbon told The Canary he’d received two phone calls marked “Private”.
Just hours before, the previous night, he posted a message to Facebook that likely caused those phone calls.
In that message, he said, after weeks of getting zero revenue from his business, he was opening the doors to his establishment on Friday morning.
Those phone calls from people he doesn’t know “advised” him to stay closed until Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says it’s OK for him and other bar owners to reopen following the state’s pandemic response.
Like his Facebook post the previous night indicated, Glauda has had enough.
His business, just outside Pottsville, hasn’t seen a customer since Wolf ordered all bars closed due to the Chinese virus on March 16.
That was supposed to be for 2 weeks. It’s now been 65 days since that order. Like most small business owners, he can’t collect unemployment. And he’s had no luck getting a loan from the US Small Business Administration.
So, he’s taking the biggest risk of his life. He’s going to reopen to customers — promising to follow all necessary safety guidelines — on Friday morning at 7 a.m.
Speaking to The Canary on Wednesday morning, Glauda pretty much knows how it’s going to go. But again, he says he has no choice.
“At this point, I’m still going through with it,” he told The Canary. “My civil rights are being violated. What would you do?”
The Virus Hit Home
Glauda’s not making this cavalier decision lightly. And he’s definitely not taking the Chinese virus lightly, either.
He told The Canary the virus claimed the life of one of his aunts. In total, 6 people in his family have been infected. And even before that happened, he understood why the state decided to take the steps it did initially.
“The virus is real and I get why they did it,” he said.
But since the initial response, and long after that initial two weeks
“Ever other licensee in the Commonwealth accepted it,” Glauda says.
But as time goes on, he sees people going in droves to big stores like Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and some other larger grocery stores.
Inside his establishment on Wednesday, he demonstrated how he can follow safety guidelines, too. Anything from limiting the number of people inside to spacing out bar stools, it’s certainly just as much and probably more than any of those stores have done to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“What’s good for one has to be good for another,” he reasoned. “If you want to do it, it has to be for everybody.”
Like many other small business owners in Schuylkill County and across Pennsylvania, Glauda wonders why it’s OK for those businesses to stay open but not a company as small as his.
They, he said, have protections in place to keep them going. He doesn’t. His doors need to stay open so he can keep the lights on, not only at his establishment but also his home.
“I don’t have other people to pick me up when I fail,” he says. “If it were fair, I’d be going with it.”
Aware of the Risks But Has Bills to Pay
Glauda says he knows what likely will happen on Friday or soon after that.
But if his business is going down, he wants to be the one responsible for it, not the state. He says he knows the risk he’s taking if he follows through with his intent to open on Friday.
“Of course I don’t want to lose the business,” he said Wednesday. But he added, he literally has no other choice at this point.
“I figured when they said ‘two weeks’ this was going a month,” he said. “It just keeps going and going and going. We’re closer than we’ve ever been to losing it.”
Even though he’s got no revenue coming in to his business, the bills haven’t stopped. He wanted to itemize them for us so he dashed home really quick to grab the nearest stack of bills his business has to pay, despite not being open. Most are from the state that shut him down.
From a stack of papers, Glauda starts rattling off the bills he’s facing: “Dept. of Revenue, Internal Revenue Service, Unemployment Compensation … ”
He continued, “HAB, EIT, LST …”
“What the hell is HAB,” we asked.
“I have no idea,” Glauda answered. “I just write the checks out.”
Additionally, he’s got local bills that need to be paid, too. He noted that somehow, mysteriously, his bill from Schuylkill County Municipal Authority rose sharply recently. He showed us the bill that indicated his water use more than doubled in March … even though he was closed for half of it.
One Person to Blame – Governor Tom Wolf
So, when Glauda opens his doors to customers on Friday morning, he knows he’ll be ruffling feathers. But he wanted us to let people know he means no disrespect to many.
At this point, he’s pointing the finger of blame at one person: Governor Tom Wolf.
And Tuesday really set him over the edge. Glauda says Wolf’s decision to veto the reopening of real estate businesses only to, hours later, decided on his own to open those businesses showed this is all about Wolf’s ego.
“I have no ill will to the LCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board), Timmy Holden … I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone, especially law enforcement,” Glauda says. “It all comes down to one person. I have a problem with the Governor. It’s not just about you (Wolf); it’s about me, too.”
Glauda’s been in business at Goodfellas for nearly 25 years. He’s put up with more than his fair share of nonsense, mostly from his own local government. When Mount Carbon had a borough council, it targeted his business and its expansion.
But his business survived. Many other local businesses did well because of events he hosted at Goodfellas.
Now, Glauda thinks it’s at a tipping point.
“Who wants to work their whole life and lose it all because of one man? It’s just so wrong,” he said. “The governor isn’t helping me with any of it.”
“I Believe in the Constitution.”
Glauda expects to encounter trouble. He says he’s ready for the fight.
“I believe in the Constitution and I’ll fight for it,” he said.
Glauda risks losing all sorts of licenses the state requires to operate a bar in Pennsylvania, including his valuable liquor license and occupancy permit. He said he’ll go to court to fight to save his business. And if that doesn’t work, he’s got other plans to stay afloat.
NOTE: Glauda co-owns Goodfellas with his wife, Deb.
>> Here’s Glauda’s Facebook post that continues getting attention on social media: