Dear Dan Onorato


Dear Dan Onorato and Allegheny County Council,

You don’t know me. My husband and I bought a restaurant/bar in May. You are ruining our family.

‘What?!?!?.’ you might ask. Well, let me explain a bit. We are living my husband’s dream. He has always wanted to own a bar. He and I put our time in working for others in restaurants. Once we got married, purchased our home and had our children, this was what we concentrated on…our own place. We worked hard, did our research and took a gigantic risk. Our restaurant, Downey’s House is truly a labor of love. It is a family affair. We are partners with my husband’s brother and wife. The place is comfortable, not corporate. We are straight up and law abiding. We become friends with our customers and truly love what we do. So far, no problems, right? Think again and read on.

As we were getting into the business, we saw the Allegheny County Drink Tax come into play. Now, I’m the numbers person in our operation. I didn’t let my head think about the numbers before we were actually ‘in business.’ As we opened the doors and started selling, my head had to go to the numbers. Because we opened at the very end of May, I knew the true test would be our June Drink Tax. I paid a few hundred dollars for May and placed the Drink Tax in the back of my mind.

In the mean time, our business was chugging along. It’s hard. Tony and I have two small children, Rebecca (5) and Chloe (3). We hired his sister to watch the girls three days a week so I could come to the restaurant to do the administrative work. Tony was at the restaurant a minimum of 12 hours a day. I believe that after opening on May 27th, his first day off was Father’s Day, June 15th. But Tony was happy being at the bar. He was on cloud nine.

At home, the kids missed their dad. A lot. And, quite honestly, I missed my husband. But we knew that the first year would be rough. We aren’t just owners. We are owner/operators. We were not blind to the fact that it would take a lot of work and a lot of hours. June came and went, and the day to figure out the taxes was here. After I wrote out a check for about $2,000, I just about threw up. July comes and goes. Today I sent in my check for about $3,000. Those amounts would make the normal person assume that we are having fantastic sales, and therefore rollin‘ in it. Um, not the case. But that’s not the point. I started to think about what my business could do with an extra two or three thousand dollars a month. The first thing that came to mind was not to give ourselves a raise. I thought ‘Wow, I could hire a manager to run the bar a few days a week. I would actually get some family time back!”

Would I like to see the drink tax go away? Absolutely. But even a little bit of consideration would be nice. The Drink Tax is a very large, bitter pill to swallow. It might be a little bit less bitter if it were 5%. From what I’ve read, it seems that you’ve already collected the money you needed for the Port Authority. I don’t believe it is necessary to continue to bleed the small businesses that give Allegheny County its character and individuality. It doesn’t seem to me that politicians are creative people. But I ask you, dig deep and tap into the creativity that is inside you to come up with another solution other than the Drink Tax. To say that it is the Drink Tax or Property Tax is simply absurd. Think outside the box.

And maybe I’ll get my family time back.


  1. DrunkArmyFan says:

    Beautifully stated. I hope the taxman actually reads this. Good luck!

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