Staten Island’s restrictions have cost plenty of business owners during the dramatic rise in coronavirus infections recently, but Mac’s Public House is turning controversy into money.
Co-owner Danny Presti was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday night after plainclothes police officers went into Mac’s and ordered indoor food and beverage service. Mac’s was serving customers indoors in defiance of Staten Island’s COVID-19 restrictions, which allowed takeout only. As many as 100 protesters gathered a night later in a demonstration against the extreme lockdowns enforced by local law enforcement.
The bar is still shut down, but Presti has capitalized on the support he’s received. His online GoFundMe fundraiser already has reached more than $83,000 as of midday Sunday, with almost 2,000 individual donations.
The bar has tried occasional openings over the past week, serving “free” food and drink while requesting patrons make “donations.”
“We have to get our livelihoods back,” Presti explained to reporters Friday night. “We haven’t been able to pay the utilities. Just everything’s piling up. We’re just scraping by.”
In addition to Presti’s arrest, the bar has seen the city impose thousands of dollars in fines.
“At this point they have nothing to lose,” said Presti’s lawyer, Mark Fonte, adding that a short walk away, restaurants are allowed to serve food indoors, just at reduced capacity.
“It must be a very smart virus that knows how to only stay within certain boundaries,” Fonte said.
On the GoFundMe site, Presti writes, in part: “We’ve all been shuttered and struggling since the first shutdowns. … With your help and donations, we will continue the fight to stay open, and anything we receive in excess of what we need will go towards assisting other small businesses fighting fines and getting reopened.”