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Ruled out

"Ruled out" Continued...

Issue: "The ABCs of C Street," Aug. 29, 2009

If profits are down, unemployment goes up. But DePamphilis balks at the thought of laying off people who have worked for him for years. One day as he was worrying he would have to cut his employees' hours, one came up to him and said, "I really gotta thank you. . . . I was able to send my little boy to summer camp.'" DePamphilis' voice cracks: "And I know the little guy, you know?" A regular who goes by "Jersey Mike" at Rudy's says he's known the bartenders for over a decade.

The regulars may save Rudy's. For six years now a politics group, Drinking Liberally, has met at Rudy's once a week to talk politics, eat Rudy's free hot dogs, and sip pitchers of Rudy's Red. Now that Rudy's regulars are all trapped inside with the music blaring, they have fewer speakers and guests than they did before.

Participant Justin Krebs suggested they circulate a petition to city officials asking them to cut the red tape. In just a few days, they had a thousand signatures, not just from New York but from across the country and overseas. One woman who signed said she met her husband at Rudy's. Another customer wrote a jeremiad asking what New York would be like without Rudy's and other independent businesses that have died. "I almost started crying. I couldn't believe it," DePamphilis said. "These were heartfelt endorsements of Rudy's Bar and what people were saying was moving to me." They have sent the petitions to the city and Danny said he believes that Mayor Mike Bloomberg's office is doing all it can to cut the red tape.

DePamphilis was talking with another restaurant owner friend about the city, regulations, a business owners' meeting with the mayor, and what DePamphilis would say if he got the mayor's ear. His friend asked him to tell the mayor that regulations were taking all the joy out of running a business.

People don't run a business for the money, DePamphilis said, but for the joy that regulations now wither. You run a business because "you like it. It's your business. You're not becoming a millionaire but you're feeding your family. You're the boss. You like it. You actually like it."

DePamphilis walks through the backyard door marked "Closed" back into the brimming bar, and his voice is thick with frustration: "They destroyed my business."

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