Will you support independent, non-partisan journalism?

Become a champion of local news and unlock additional benefits as a LebTown member, like exclusive members-only emails, access to comments, invitations to members-only events, and more.

Make an impact. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Taste of Sicily has received its third fine from the state for operating with a suspended license, and owners of the restaurant are, if anything, more defiant than ever.

Shannon Powers, press secretary for the state Department of Agriculture, confirmed in an email Friday that the Palmyra eatery was fined after a visit by food inspectors on June 24. The amount of the fine has again risen, to $3,000, after previous fines of $1,000 on June 3 and $2,000 on June 16. (See the complaint in PDF here and the notice of civil penalty here.)

Fines could rise as high as $10,000 per day if the violations continue, Powers noted previously.

The restaurant’s owners have stated that they do not intend to pay the fines.

Read More: Taste of Sicily receives second fine 2x original, restaurant says it won’t pay

Violations stem from the restaurant’s decision to open its dining room for eat-in service despite a statewide ban during the COVID-19 quarantine period.

It was not immediately clear how the county’s forthcoming ‘green’ status would affect Taste of Sicily’s situation.

Restaurant co-owner Christine Wartluft has used Taste of Sicily’s Facebook page to voice her anger over the suspension – and her plan to continue defying the orders.

The fines and suspension were issued by the state Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services, a division of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, after state inspectors found the restaurant to be in violation of orders from Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Department of Health allowing takeout and delivery services only during the quarantine. Restaurants were ordered to close in April; Taste of Sicily reopened on May 15 and announced that patrons would not be asked to wear masks in the restaurant – also a violation of the state’s orders.

Read More: Food safety inspectors spill the beans on restaurant audits

In the days preceding the first fine, Taste of Sicily received at least two letters from the state warning owners that fines and other penalties were likely if they continued ignoring the ban on eat-in service.

Emily Demsey, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, said earlier this month that the suspension would be lifted if Taste of Sicily closed its dining room.

Read More: Taste of Sicily license suspended, GOP elected officials will speak there Friday

Local officials, including state Senator Dave Arnold and state Reps. Russ Diamond and Frank Ryan, held a rally at the restaurant earlier this month to show their support. Lebanon County Commissioners and District Attorney Pier Hess Graf also have voiced their opposition to the state’s restrictions.

Wartluft’s brother said previously that they “are not planning on paying any fines” and will “continue to fight for our right to make an honest living while obviously practicing good and safe business, and sanitary practices.”

Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Is there a story you think LebTown should report? Let our newsroom know using the form below.

Help us provide journalism Lebanon County needs.
If you are thankful for LebTown, consider joining as a member. Members get an inside look at our publishing schedule each week, plus invites to a members-only Facebook group and happy hours.

Learn more and join now here.

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates each weekday at 3 p.m.

Success! You're on the list.

Full Disclosure: The campaign of Dave Arnold was an advertiser on LebTown during previous election cycles. The campaign of Frank Ryan is a current advertisers on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.

Tom Knapp

Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments