Friends rally to help Roberto’s downtown restaurant


GoFundMe page with fundraising goal of $40,000 has been set up

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

A GoFundMe fundraiser titled “Save Roberto’s” under the name “Friends of Roberto’s” has raised $600 out of its $40,000 goal as of Tuesday.

While the fundraiser’s description indicates it was organized by Roberto’s co-owner John Naples, Naples told The Vindicator that was an error. He said the fundraiser was actually organized by a few friends.

The online fundraiser was developed after the Ohio Department of Taxation suspended the downtown restaurant’s vendor license Jan. 9 and posted a public notice on the restaurant’s door.

It reads: “Friends of Roberto’s Italian Ristorante in Downtown Youngstown, created this account on behalf of our dear friends John and Roberto, in the hopes the Youngstown community will rally behind us to keep the gem of Youngstown open! ... The hardship they have endured, not bringing in any income, has been emotionally and financially draining.”

Naples said that he and co-owner Robert Faraglio were promised they had until Jan. 30 to file the taxes. The fundraiser notes there was a misunderstanding regarding the business taxes deadline.

Naples said they are exploring all options and hope to be operating within a week.

“The GoFundMe was something we weren’t comfortable with, but we are grateful for the people who donated and I want to thank them and the whole community for the support they have given us,” he said.

A taxation department spokesman explained last week a license suspension and public notice typically indicates “the business has fallen behind in either paying their sales tax they’ve collected or filing returns.”

To get back in good standing, a business must pay off its sales-tax obligation or file all outstanding sales-tax returns, the spokesman said.

“We are under rough times,” Naples said. “We didn’t want any GoFundMe made under our names, but of course we welcome the community’s help in getting our doors open.”

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