Pandemic recovery funds center of controversy between city of Lorain and restaurant

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 11:06 PM EST

LORAIN, Ohio (WOIO) - The Lorain community comes to the rescue of a local restaurant owner, using a GoFundMe to raise more than $3,000 in less than 24-hours for the restaurant Broadway Mary’s.

The Broadway Avenue business was forced to temporarily close on Tuesday and Wednesday because the water was shutoff.

Mary Szefcyk, the Owner of Broadway Mary’s, tells 19 News that the water is flowing again, and while her restaurant will reopen for business as usual on Thursday morning, it’s all about survival now.

Broadway Mary’s opened in February of 2020, just one month before the state ordered COVID shutdown.

Broadway Mary’s weathered the COVID crisis, but, just like so many other businesses they’re struggling now, and need relief after a pandemic slow down, “We have a viable business, just all of this extra weight from the pandemic - it could be nice just to get that clean slate, so we can start over again,” Szefcyk said.

The restaurant is hoping that jump start could come from $30,000 in federal COVID relief funds, but it needs the approval of Lorain City Council members, and some have already voted not to expedite the pandemic funds to the Broadway Avenue business - saying questions remain about how the money will be spent.

Even though we’re told every other business and non-profit that put in an application were expedited the funds.

“No one else was scrutinized like me. No one else went through this. If they think I’m doing something wrong then let me know what I can do to make myself better,” Szefcyk said.

However, Lorain City Councilman-At-Large, Tony Dimacchia says so far no one has voted against Broadway Mary’s being granted the federal dollars, but, he admits he did not vote to expedite the funds because he feels it’s not clear how the money would be spent.

He says Broadway Mary’s application also had to be revised, leaving him with questions, “This particular application was submitted for mortgage assistance and she doesn’t have a mortgage (she has a land contract), so the city worked with Szefcyk to revise that application. Now, more information is coming and there are more reasons as to what we’re going to use it for, what we’re not going to use it for. So, the clarity on this particular applicant hasn’t been there. It’s just been very confusing for many folks and brings up red flags for some of us - me in particular.”

Ward 2, Lorain City Councilwoman Victoria Kempton disagrees, and says she’s standing by Broadway Mary’s because was approved on every aspect of the application, “Lorain is on the precipice of something amazing and we have to make sure that those who took a chance and opened a business when no one else wanted to, that we don’t let them down.”

Szefcyk tells 19 News if there’s something a council person doesn’t understand about her application she is more than happy to explain it, so, what happens if she doesn’t receive the grant, “It’s going to make things hard. Like I’ll fight, I’ll get it one way or the other, whether it’s a fundraiser, or figuring out whatever else we need to survive.”

Lorain City Council will hold it’s third and final reading on Broadway Mary’s rescue funds application on Feb. 6.

The restaurant would need a majority vote from council to receive the funds.