WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – ‘What The Fork’ restaurant in Wilkes-Barre may be idle but there is action surrounding it. The IRS filed a nearly $45,000 tax lien on Tuesday against the business and its owner, Mario Bevilacqua. The filing comes nearly three weeks after a small business loan organization filed a judgment seeking to recoup more than $105,000 from Mr. Bevilacqua. Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association President John Maday reacted by saying “My impressions first of all were surprise, shock. I thought they were doing well.”
Success was certainly the impression a little more than a year ago when in May 2015 Mr. Bevilacqua opened a walk-in restaurant in Midtown Village. It complimented his two curbside food trucks that operated in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. But it all ground to a halt earlier this month when the business suddenly ceased.
Sandy Insalaco of Insalaco Development Group which leased the Midtown Village Space to Mr. Bevilacqua told Eyewitness News that a substantial amount of rotting food had to be removed last week from the sit-down restaurant.
Besides the brick and mortar restaurant and the two trucks, ‘What The Fork’ had occupied space at PNC Field in Moosic and had also explored the possibility of locating in the Marketplace at Steamtown in Scranton. Some wonder if Mr. Bevilacqua bit off more than he could chew with his business. “Possibly you outrun your resources or you get yourself too spread out,” said Mr. Maday. David Potash who works in Downtown Wilkes-Barre added, “The restaurant business is very tough and certainly around here I know it’s tough.”
The loss of ‘What The Fork’ creates a ripple effect on neighboring businesses. Bee Hive Gift Shop owner Patty Leighton said, “We counted on him for our foot traffic. A lot of people came in there after lunch with their cups or their to-go bags and they’d stop in so for me it’s been a loss for me as well.”
We were unable to reach the Mr. Bevilacqua for comment. His Facebook page indicates he was headed last Thursday to the Olympics in Rio. The Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association hopes to fill the vacant restaurant space by the holiday season.