Regulations Delay Restaurant Opening

LA PLUME TOWNSHIP -- Two women spent their life savings to open a hoagie shop in Lackawanna County. The place was set to open back in September but to this day, the place has still not fed a single customer

Gina Jerauld thought her hoagie shop would be a community fixture in La Plume Township, right next to the campus of Keystone College. But she says a single environmental regulation keeps her from opening her doors.

The sign 'Gina's Take Out, Coming Soon' has been outside this business on Routes 6 and 11 in La Plume Township since mid-September.

The menu is posted next to what should be the drive-thru window.

Gina Jerauld and her partner Chris Brown sank almost $40,000 to equip and renovate the building at the edge of the Keystone College campus.

"I should be open right now selling food," Jerauld said.

During the summer, local building inspectors approved the renovation.

The Department of Agriculture licensed her to operate a restaurant.

The restaurant passed some of the toughest tests -- the water tests -- and it passed with flying colors. Then, days before the restaurant was set to open, a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspector visited Gina's.

"He showed up the next morning and said, 'your well is not grouted. I can't let you open,'" she recalled. "It's been our dream for years, and we've finally done it, and now all of a sudden after we get it all done you say, 'Whoa!'"

The DEP told her wells supplying water to restaurants and other public facilities must be grouted, meaning the underground section of the pipe from the restaurant to the well must be coated with concrete or clay.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Colleen Connolly says all wells for restaurants have required grouting since 1990.

A Penn State study shows grouted wells triple the level of protection from bacteria that can seep into wells from the ground.

"We sympathize with their frustration," Connolly said. "We have to ensure that there is safe drinking water from the public, including the drinking water from this shop."

Jerauld thought grouting rules didn't affect her because her well was once used for a previous restaurant back in the 1960s and 1970s.

But in August of this year, the DEP decided, "it should not be our policy to make exceptions from our standards just because the well is existing."

So when a DEP inspector checked out Gina's well in September, he told her she could not open because the agency rules now say her well had to be grouted.

"They should have told me in April when I was getting my water tested, and I would have looked for another building," Gerauld said.

A new well will cost about $10,000. She doesn't have the money.

"It leaves me in debt and needing a job."

And Gina's Take Out is no closer to opening than when this sign went up in September.

"I put a lot into it, I put my life into it, I took a mortgage out on my house to build it."

The DEP has suggested Gina work with its agency's ombudsman's office. It might be able to help her find grants or low-interest loans needed to get a grouted well.

In the meantime, she is running out of time with an empty restaurant on Routes 6 and 11, no customers, and monthly payments due for rent, electricity, and other bills.

26 comments

  • Bob

    AWE, she should be allowed to have unsafe water, but when raccoon crap goes into this wellhead with surface drainage, don’t blame the DEP. As for ‘grandfathering’ the well, grandpap died 50 years ago. If you want unregulated drinking water, drink out of a stream. Maybe under Trump we can get back to untreated water, until then, stay healthy.

    • Lloyd Schmucatelli

      Sorry you don’t like “grandfathering” but it applies in more situations that you think.

      As far as the raccoon poop making for unsafe drinking water, you might be surprised how may small town and private community water systems have problems with their water.

      Sorry to rain on your utopian ideologies, but the world will never be perfect.

      Now give me my hoagie!!!!!

  • warningfakenews

    Some applicable locker room phraseology:
    “Winners refuse to lose” and
    “A man of excuses is a poor excuse of a man”
    Sometimes adversity can derail quite quickly, other times it takes a little while. What does Napoleon Hill say on the subject of adversity? It’s just about the only thing in the book in huge print.
    “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit” I submit to you that Hill oversimplified it, the truth is that there are MULTIPLE seeds to be found in ANY adversity. Only with a burning desire to achieve are we open to them, find them, and exploit them.
    One more for the road: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

  • just wondering

    The bottom line: if they don’t have backup operating capital to cover unexpected expenses in general (and a small business like this, after renovations and set-up, should have at least a year or two’s backup capital to get going, cover unexpected expenses, broken equipment etc) it was just a matter of a short time for them to go out of business anyway. See it all the time around here. Good intentions, but no knowledge….. As to the regulations, if you’ve ever got a bacterial infection from food/water, then you appreciate these regulations.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Small business entrepreneur takes it up the wazoo again and again and again. The PA. DEP inspector most likely laughed his arse off and is still laughing. It’s all about POWER and keeping the small guy away from the American dream. The system is rigged; NO, the system is broken! The people are getting PISSED! When we have a society on the brink there’s no way to fix anything. REGULATIONS ARE KILLING OUR STATE AND OUR NATION AND STILL THE ELECTED AND THE appointed REGULATORS COULDN’T CARE LESS AS THEY ARE UNTOUCHABLES on a pay scale that’s just SICK.
    There needs to be a buy-in from the mucky-mucks before there can be any hope of turning the tables to a win-win for the small business entrepreneurs to have a chance. Note: Most restaurants don’t make it more than 3 years anyway. HELP THEM!!!!
    All costs need to be disclosed up front and our state/county/city should work together to make businesses evolve/develop for the benefit of EVERYONE
    Hey state reps, how’s your tax structure? U Still BANKRUPT? Rough Ain’t It! concerned citizen

    • Lloyd Schmucatelli

      Exactly.

      Not to mention that they are so concerned about the water quality for health reasons, but don’t give 2 shyts about the large meatball hoagie with extra cheese and curly fries to go and large soda with all the sugar that’s made with that same water!!

      It’s all BS. It’s all BS.

      Shakedown BS.

      Better case that well!!

    • try elsewhere

      It’s easy to rail against regulations. Every travel to a country where there are no regulations on food, air, water etc? Good luck — see you in the their dirty hospital…And think about it — these countries without regulations (most of the developing world) are poor — there is no economic benefit to no regulations — on the contrary. The idea that the lack of regulations is good for the economy is just contrary to the facts and part of the Fox et al corporate noise machine. trump doesn’t care if you have clean air, food or water or no health insurance when you get sick from the lack of regulations as long as he and his billionaire buddies get richer.

  • sue

    Well the point of the story is to get it out there because the DEP. Certainly is NOT.. so that other people that wish to open a restaurant can not make the same mistake and screw themselves over . Something like this needs to be public knowledge not just oh yeah there’s this thing… dep needs to be more jmformative

  • Wnep interviews some Dandys

    Grouting a well has nothing to do with the plastic line from the well to the building! The steel casing that’s seated to bedrock is what gets grouted! I do this yearly and pound over 40 plus residential wells a year and several grouted commercial wells. A new well will not cost you 10 grand. Kind of your own stupidity for not looking at all rules and regulations before dumping $40 grand in to the shack!

    • sue

      Well the DEP did not put this information available for people to see. It’s a regulation that far from well known. Hence the story..

    • Smith102788

      Sounds like you have the right stuff to help thease people out! Doing over 40 wells a year makes you a expert sir. You should contact them and offer to help them out. Maybe do some good instead of sitting behind your computer making comments that help no one. Serisouly get up and help thease people out.

      • Wnep interviews some Dandys

        I do help people out and we have wells scheduled 3 plus months out on the schedule! Anyone with ambition would have made that call back in September when they were told and it would be getting done about now!

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    So the tenant have to encase a 3/16″ thick piece of black plastic water line in concrete or clay to keep the bacteria out???

    You know those pesky bacteria love to drill through thick black plastic!!

    I highly doubt it has anything to do with Key-stoned College not wanting any competition.

    Open a “go fund me” page and get the help you need to get this done. Your in a good spot there to sell hoagies!

    Put some big billboards out front saying that you’d love to start serving the public, but big brother has to get their cut first. Put the inspectors name and phone number on the sign!

  • Not Happening

    If they canโ€™t come up with 10k to become compliant they are in no financial condition to open a restaurant to begin with. Look for another line of work. Most restaurants fail anyway.

    • warningfakenews

      While I have a strong distaste for government, the above statement is true. This is an amount of money which is small, in comparison to what surprises may happen. You have to have a “no matter what” attitude, and if they fold now, they never had the “white heat of burning desire” Napoleon Hill cites as being crucial for success.

      • warningfakenews

        My comment was made out of compassion. Either you have a “white heat of burning desire” which overcomes all obstacles or you don’t. If you don’t, then failure is more than likely going to be the result. The book teaches all about that. What did YOU suggest that will take them closer to their goals?

        The good news is that with such an intense desire, NO obstacle stands in your way. None.

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