ALLEGHENY CO, PA (KDKA) – State senators and representatives are now joining forces to help a group of restaurant and bar owners in reopening their doors without the state’s restrictions.

“It’s unfair to the restaurants. The way they have us handcuffed right now trying to survive, said Rod Ambrogi.

Ambrogi owns Al’s Café in Bethel Park. He started a Facebook post last week calling on any industry owner to meet him on Monday with his attorney to discuss what legal options they had as business owners over the constant changes.

Ambrogi told KDKA’s Nicole Ford that he anticipated 20 owners to show up, but over 200 came that the event was moved outside to the parking lot. His meeting caught the attention of one local state senator.

“I had actually observed them on the nightly news and reached out to their attorney to set up a meeting,” said Senator Jim Brewster.

On Thursday, Brewster and several other state lawmakers met with over 60 business owners at Al’s Café. The group of owners officially created a partnership and took on the name “Southwestern PA Restaurant and Tavern Association.” They laid out specific requests to the lawmakers.

“One was to be able to have bars open with the plastic dividers so they could comply with social distancing,” Brewster said.

The other requests include opening at a higher percentage occupancy and allowing alcohol to be sold without a meal.

“Everyone is just getting stretched out. We are living on a shoe string right now,” Ambrogi said.

That’s why Brewster and his fellow lawmakers sent a letter to the Governor and County Executive asking them to review the group’s ideas and make changes to the current restrictions.

(Photo Courtesy of Senator Jim Brewster’s Office)

(Photo Courtesy of Senator Jim Brewster’s Office)

“I would hope that the Governor and County Executive know us and respect us and give us the credit for knowing our districts and being closer to the bug zapper,” Brewster said.

While they wait for word from Harrisburg, Ambrogi said he’s calling on more restaurants and bars to join him.

“I don’t want to see them lose their livelihoods as I lose mind. Call me at Al’s Café and join us. It’s going to take more than 200, more than 2,000 it’s going to take all of us,” Ambrogi said.

If you are interested in joining the newly created group, you are asked to send your restaurant name and contact information to jeziorof@gmail.com.

We also reached out to the Governor’s Office to see if they had a comment on the letter.