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CA business owner says he has to close up shop after a year of lockdown. Then heroes step in.


Joe Tahanian tried to fight the government at the onset, and ended up nearly losing everything

Joe Tahanian (Image source: Bill Melugin, KTTV-TV. Used with permission.)

Joe Tahanian owns The Wine Bar in Montrose, California. A year ago, he made headlines when he tried to fight the coronavirus lockdowns that were crippling his business.

After even selling his furniture to stay afloat, Tahanian told a local reporter this week that it was the end of the line for his business. But once the story got out, heroes stepped in.

What are the details?

KTTV-TV reporter Bill Melugin tweeted Thursday, "April 2020, I took these photos of Joe Tahanian, owner of The Wine Cave, a bar in Montrose. We did a story w/ him about how he planned to stay open during lockdowns. The day after it aired, authorities threatened him, & he complied. He just called me. He lost his business today."

Melugin attached the story he did on Tahanian last year, where The Wine Bar owner explained that he felt he had no choice but to defy lockdowns because his business would not stay afloat otherwise. Tahanian said back then, "Unless they handcuff me and take me to jail, I will not close."

After hearing of Tahanian's plight, celebrity chef Andrew Gruel tweeted Friday, "Just spoke with Joseph. We need to raise $100k to get his business back on track. We will contribute what we can. Please spread the word and help by donating to our gofundme below. All $ from this point forward will go to Joseph."

Gruel has worked to raise funds for restaurants and their workers amid the lockdowns, and has been a thorn in the side of California officials killing the businesses with COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Melugin, Gruel also reached out to Dave Portnoy, president of Barstool Sports, who has saved numerous small businesses across the country with tens of millions raised through his initiative, the Barstool Fund.

Portnoy told Tahanian that Barstool Fund would supply the $100,000 needed for him to keep The Wine Bar, and the business owner would also be receiving another $10,000 raised by Gruel.

In reaction to Melugin's tweets about Tahanian on Friday, one person lashed out at the reporter, saying, "It is not the fault of the government or the authorities that he lost his business. It's the fault of the people who refused to comply with simple and reasonable preventive measures to stop the spread of an infection."

Melugin replied, "He has been shut down since last April. He complied. Even sold off all his furniture on Craigslist to try to stay afloat as long as he could. His reward for complying was losing everything he ever worked for. 100% the fault of government rules. No revenue for an entire year."

Anything else?

When reached for reaction to Tahanian's story, Melugin told TheBlaze, "I'm thrilled both Chef Gruel and Portnoy stepped up to help Joe out. He's a really good guy and was on the verge of losing everything through no fault of his own. Happy that his story went viral and he got some quick help! He deserves it."

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