Patriot's displaced: Arby's reclaims its name

dish-arbys-signArby's has reclaimed its restaurant at Forest Lakes.

Forest Lake's Arby’s owner Tom Slonaker has finally left the building. According to Emmet's Street Arby's manager Ginger Herdon, the same company that owns her restaurant has purchased the building from Slonaker, who recently renamed his Arby's A Patriot's Place after a dispute with the Arby's franchise over what kind of food he could offer.

Slonaker, a flamboyant businessman with a Libertarian bent, had repeatedly defied a County zoning ordinance prohibiting commercial flags (an ordinance that has been in place since 1969) by hoisting an Arby’s flag in front of his restaurant, along with signs for another business he owns. Later, he claimed the sign ordinance was enforced unevenly against businesses along 29 North, and he filed a civil suit against the county with the help of the Rutherford Institute, which argued that Slonaker’s First Amendment rights were being trampled upon. But last year a judge ruled that Slonaker had violated the sign ordinance and slapped him with $1,000 fines for several violations.

After tearing the Arby's signs off the side of his building in November, Slonaker replaced them with illuminated American flags and renamed the restaurant, claiming he wanted A Patriot's Place to become a place to eat good American food and learn about the words and the ideals of the founding fathers.

“This country, this town is so divided,” said Slonaker, who organized a Tea Party event at the restaurant before the mid-term elections. “I hope this new concept conveys to people that we have to come together to fix the problems of this country.”

However, he may have also been struggling. “If I’m going to lose money,” he added, “I might as well do it on my own terms.”

Apparently, Slonaker decided to take care of his own problems instead. The businessman could not be immediately reached for comment, as the phone number for his other local business, Cville Inflatables, which rents festive backyard jump-and-play structures, simply cut off when we tried to call. The website for Cville Inflatables is also no longer active.

But Dish thinks this isn't the last we've heard of Mr. Slonaker.


Funny how you don't get "harrassed" when you don't break the law.

I look forward to eating at that location. I had refused to enter the place before now.

Tom fought for what he believed in- our 1st amendment rights. I would hope all business owners would do the same. He risked it all for the right to express himself through a business. If you didn't like his views, you didn't buy his goods or services.

If, instead, you persecuted him for those views, expressed with his money and on his property, within the 1st amendment and the ruless and regulations governing that property, then you were infringing upon all of our 1st amendment rights.

I wish Sonaker well in whatever he chooses to do.

I still firmly believe he was singled out by the county for personal and intense harassment, for whatever reason.

Oh good. Arbys rules

You see, "gasbarge" is what is known as a "Libertarian groopie". Hardcore members or: "plastercasters" actually capture physical mementos of real dissenters. Gasbog has kept french-fry DNA from a patrioTs pLaCe and will use it for?? Gasbog....please respond.

HarryD, Did you somehow miss the fact that failing to adhere to the rules and regulations governing that property was the root of Mr. Slonaker's problems? What do you think a sign ordinance is if not a rule or regulation?

Slonaker in over his head! HAHAHA!!!!

This is how vicious rumors get started!

HarryD - Slonaker "risked it all"? He got a ticket and paid a $1,000 fine. Big deal.

This reminds me of our good friend Jeff Clark from Danville - another freedom-loving patriot oppressed by the central planners in our socialism loving gubmint - and yet another one who can't seem to balance his own books. Christine O'Donnell - another freedom-and-personal-responsibility-loving-patriot - with her campaign finance and mortgage issues - comes to mind. I wonder how much of this thrashing angst against the government is misdirected anger and frustration from other struggles - personal financial issues...which might, just maybe, be the result of some bad personal decisions.

It's truly hilarious to listen to people like Mr. Clark - the irony could not possibly be thicker - complain about how the government lives beyond it's own means and is irresponsible with credit and borrowing, etc. - or people like Mr. Slonaker complaining about how the government should be run more like a business, while touting their own credentials as business people. Does Mr. Slonaker seriously contend that the county's signage restrictions are responsible for his fast-food business failure? Clearly lots of other fast food businesses are capable of complying with the regulations and thriving.

GSOE - I would be the first to agree that local government or law enforcement frequently engages in selective enforcement - of all sorts - but I recall several other cases as well - Mr. Slonaker was hardly alone. The perpetually-going-out-of-business-sale-oriental-rug guy leaps to mind. And you should very well know that regardless of how sloppy or uneven the enforcement of the ordinance was, once Slonaker tried to make a point and pick a fight about it, the county had not much choice.

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CookieJar- Didn't miss a thing us how he violated a sign ordinance and how others did not....."commercial flags" vs "commercal feathers".........

confused easily- "he risked it all"- the fine was certainly not a big deal- he decided to sell out because of the issues he had with the County and perhaps business being bad- When he started there was no competition.

Man I missed this story, I had thought Arbys simply abandoned the location and some polictical organization was using the building, I didn't even realize they were serving food there., Everytime I drove by there, I never saw any cars in the lot. In the end, I think Tom could have found better ways to express himself.

People have been covertly protesting and defeating the county sign ordinance for years. Tractor trailers parked out front with mattress advertising on them. A cell phone company bought an old armored truck, put their business logo on it and parked it out front near the roadway. And most recently a car dealership has a tire advertisement on a brand new truck in front of their business near the roadway. The list goes on and on. The violations are numerous, still to this day. But Slonaker was the only person I ever recall being singled out and harassed.

Scott, indeed, you have valid points. This is the issue though. There should no selective enforcement. Selective enforcement causes friction and provocation. Enforce the laws equally.

I mentioned this once before. Around 1979, out of all the residents legally dodging or avoiding personal property taxes in the County of Albemarle for many many years, the county singled out my father because he bought a new Cadillac and a new truck every year. He would sell his vehicles in late December, and not take delivery of his new vehicles until January 2. The county insisted that my father start paying taxes on the vehicles as if he owned them on January 1. And they wanted this tax bill to be retroactive as well, taxes due on previous years. He refused. They charged him with tax evasion. Obviously the judge threw the case out and made the county pay my father's attorney fees. But the point remains, the county singled out one individual for harassment, my father. My father always claimed it was personal, a certain county employee in the finance department and my father were not best of friends in the first place. He says the county employee abused his authority and was just trying to make trouble for my father. I think the same thing happened to Slonaker.

According to historians, the personal journal of England’s King George III, the entry for July 4, 1776 is recorded as ââ?¬Å?Nothing of any significance transpired this day.” From his perspective, perhaps nothing did, but from our perspective, nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, it took some time for our foundational document of freedom, declaring our independence to make it across the ocean. It took time for the pebble, that our fifty-six founding fathers had just dropped into the currents of history, to ripple through time. I fear that a new pebble has just been dropped, yet, drowned out by the headlines of other world and national events, I can not help but inquire, did anyone else hear the splash?
In the annals of time, given all that is currently occupying our attention, this may not seem to matter. It may not seem significant, and many may be glad to be able to purchase a roast beef sandwich without having to go down to Barracks Road. No doubt, there will be some citizens who will be relieved, not having to hear about whatever new controversy is taking place in regards to sign ordinances, etc. To those who only relish fast food availability, or a quieter news cycle, I would respectfully inquire; do you not see the larger picture? Do you appreciate the significance of that silenced voice?
In 1835, Lyman Beecher wrote in his Plea for the West: "If this nation is, in the providence of God, destined to lead the way in the moral and political emancipation of the world, it is time she understood her high calling, and were harnessed for the work. For mighty causes, like floods from distant mountains, are rushing with accumulating power to their consummation of good or evil, and
soon our character and destiny will be stereotyped forever." With the announcement of Mr. Slonaker’s decision to sell, we are witnessing the floods of tyranny washing away the bedrock of freedom. His is just one more voice that has been silenced. Will it make any difference? Maybe not today or tomorrow. Maybe not to us, or even our children. But what about our grandchildren? Tyranny never appears in an instant. It grows like a weed; silently encroaching and taking root, then, it seemingly is everywhere, requiring far more energy and diligence to control it. Likewise, we can lose our rights, either by being deceived into laying them down willingly, or through coercive legislation and practices. We may not even notice their loss or lack today, but it will take a thousand years to get them back.
I want to extend my appreciation to Mr. Slonaker for the contributions he has made to this community. As a businessman, generating tax revenue. As a citizen, contributing to various causes and assisting with fundraisers for different organizations. Most especially, for his patriotic support of and fight for-freedom. He has provided a living example of everything that our founding fathers embodied in their ââ?¬Å?Spirit of 76.” At great personal expense, he stood for the principals of freedom, in hopes that he would leave a legacy for those generations that will follow. In that endeavor, he has unarguably been successful, for those whose perceptions are clear and sagacious enough to recognize it. My family and I have eaten plenty of roast beef and drank enough revolutionary coffee, to lend aid to the cause. No doubt, the delicacies that will be subsequently served in that location will never taste quite as sweet to me.
Needless to say, life goes on, but it will be just a little less free. The floodwaters of tyranny will now wash upon shores of new business owners or others that desired to live the dream. Just as trees that have stood for years, fall victim to storms, when the larger, more deeply rooted trees are removed and no longer afford protection, so too will we see the pressure of coercion find new targets to replace the old. The old story about not caring when the foes of freedom came for this person or that group, but are suddenly manifest when you are the one called to stand, and there is no one there to stand with you, is poignantly remembered here. Thank you Tom Slonaker. It the truest sense of being a Virginian, you’ve done us proud.

The sign ordinance didn't have anything to do with his no longer having an Arby's (and ripping the signs off of the building). His repeated breaking of the terms of his franchise contract with Arby's is the reason he had to cease operating his restaurant as an Arby's.

From the article in the DP:

ââ?¬Å?It was not our decision, actually. It was Arby’s decision,” Slonaker said. ââ?¬Å?I just simply said, ââ?¬Ë?Look. I’m going to do the kind of things the successful franchises do. I’m going to offer chicken. I’m going to offer a great product. I’m going to offer desserts, and whether Arby’s allows me to do that according to my ”Š agreement or not, we’re going to do it. And if Arby’s says we can’t, then, you know, we can’t be an Arby’s anymore.’”

Short version, "yeah, I've got a contract that I signed but I'm going to ignore it." The responsible thing would have been to terminate the contract and do his own thing. Or try to renegotiate (with the knowledge that Arby's might decline to do so).

I don't know that man at all and this isn't any commentary on him as a person. I think he handled this thing poorly.

"The deep secret of America is not that its passions have become binary; it's that binary passions give us a free pass that we've confused with our freedoms. One need look no further than the "debate" over global warming to understand that we've become addicted to political polarization as surely as we've become addicted to fossil fuels, and for the same reason: because it offers a handy excuse for inaction; because it allows us to exalt our "way of life" without ever facing its consequences. The spectacle of public slaughter has become almost as endemic to the United States as it has to the fledgling democracy of Iraq, with the legally-purchased handgun our version of the suicide belt; our own polarization may or may not inspire the practice, but it certainly ensures that the practice continues, defended by a citizenry whose penchant for false choices allows it the luxurious choice of doing absolutely nothing."

Read more:

@ The Native - again I'd note that Mr. Slonaker's restaurant being changed from Arby's to A Patriot's Place didn't have anything to do with the sign ordinance (which may be an abysmal infringement of freedom) but rather with his voluntary choice to continue to violate the terms of a contract into which he entered voluntarily and could, presumably, have exited voluntarily. That's not fighting for freedom, that's shirking one's responsibilities as a party to a legal contract.

There are two quite separate discussions to be had here. Conflating them confuses the issue.

The Native,

A very quaint little ditty that ignores the reality of life in the 18th Century. It is unlikely that he would have heard the word on July 4th.

I really wish that better entrances were used as segues into long teary eyed ramblings about patriotism, especially when thea re sued to cover either incompetence or what might seem just pure childishness. Slonaker's civil rights are hardly being trampled on when he refuses to honor a contract he entered into that thus far, appears to have been fair.

Save your speeches for the real patriots.

but he was singled out for sure- Arby's "food", and I use that word loosely, was being outclassed by Slonaker's fare for sure.

Patriot's Place was handing out horsey sauce for their chicken. Fail.

"They got the big mac, we got the big mic"

Tyranny vs. anarchy?

Slonaker tried to change a successful business and failed. Now Arbys is coming back under new ownership and will succeed once again.
After the flag issues and Slonaker serving items not on the Arbys menu BEFORE changing the name of the restaurant, it appears he has issues with authority. He had a good thing and lost it. End of story.

Some scientists adhere to a theory that the universe would not crack in half if an advertising banner were to be seen here in twelve-pack country.

Hopefully for Slonaker's sake he can find a local community which does not have a mentality of: run 'em out of town with a pitchfork.

Its the college-schools fault! Down with book's ! !

I don't know how you got that stretch out of any of this. I am most adamantly opposed to unions. Was forced to be in one at one time. Waste of my money and time, and in my opinion, they have outlived whatever usefulness they may have once had.

"It’s not easy running a business now."

And yet, in spite of the economic conditions, many are doing it quite well in this area, even seeing some growth. Theya re doing it without chisling on their agreements, screaming about how they are being victimized by government, and pretending that if they have to pay people anything, that somehow it's unpatriotic.

Perhaps if Mr Slonaker spent a bit more of his energy on his business, and a bit less time squabbling with anyone who won't let him do as he pleases when he pleases, he might not be closing his doors now. He would have ended his contract with Arby's long ago, and maybe, just maybe, managed to do something more to his pleasing as Patriots Place and been successful.

But of course, the sanctimoniousness of using Patriot indicated to me he was not really interested in running an eatery anyways. What does a Patriot eat anyways? The US is culturally very diverse and always has been. No doubt there would have been nothing for a 'lib' to eat would there?

Turns out there wasn't enough for just Conservativs to eat. Must be they were all shopping at Walmart, as usual, and sending their dollars to China.

A restive spirit would have a hard time dealing with the realities of these corporate fast food franchise places, but the sign ordinance has many silly aspects, and it's just plain tortuous going through all the BS to get a permit. Another example, The county enacted an outdoor burning ordinance back in the nineties. At first you needed to go to the county office building to fill out an application and pay the fee. Then at some later time you had to meet the Fire Safety Officer on location so he could see for himself what you wanted to burn. Then you got the permit. Now I gather one must take a "fire safety class" first, then the other 2 steps. All that just to burn a brushpile. This is stupid and just provides employment for surplus public employees. Another thing about sign ordinances both city and county, is they only become issues in certain high traffic corridors while elsewhere people do what they please.

I suppose Mr. Slonaker lacks the rhino hide one needs to be a businessman in this world. The fact that he might be impulsive and perhaps a hothead doesn't change the odds that he may in fact have been persecuted just for having an attitude.

@GSOE - I basically do share your sentiments about selective enforcement. I share the realism that says it's never gonna be perfect, except in a vacuum, but I do think we should try much harder. I also don't question your basic point about some government employees using their position to pursue vendettas.

Oh, and I'd say "The Native" is challenging the gasbag part of your title.

Well, I figured "Patriot's Place" wouldn't be around for long, but I'm surprised it happened this quickly. Face it: Slonaker just isn't a very good businessman. He wants to do things his way, which is fine unless you sign a franchise agreement saying you'll be doing things their way.

I know we all wish him well in his future endeavors. But please, no more garbage about how he has been/is being persecuted.

Don't understand why my BLOG got deleted, when it said the exact same thing as "democracy" did,,,,, guess this is not a free country after all. There really is no freedom of speech.....

... and the guy who use to own the Arby's, you gotta admit, he was kind of loony!

Is that really roast beef Arby's serves ... you have to ask the question now after learning Taco Bell's meat isn't really meat, well it's 30% meat, the rest of it is oatmeal and sawdust! That's what you get with a $.99 menu, meat flavored sawdust! It looks like roast beef, sorta tastes like roast beef but if your not really sure just smother it with horsey sauce! Yum!

... but then what if the horsey sauce is not real?

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Selective enforcement is an everyday fact of life in law enforcement.

The sandwich is mightier than the sword.

Mr Slonaker had a choice: operate within the explicit terms of the contract he signed with Arby's, or not. He chose not, and as a predictable consequence, he no longer has a business. I am not sure how anyone can admire his poor judgement, even if they agree with his politics, which consist largely of memorizing and repeating a currently popular set of shallow platitudes.

Maybe Slonaker no longer has a business because he's had his fun and has decided to retire. It's not easy running a business now. The headaches associated with hiring and keeping an intelligent and competent staff is enough to drive a business owner crazy today.

No doubt Scott would have found the 56 men who signed our Declaration to be "gasbags" as well. Pray that you do not find yourself in the situation of needing a coalition to stand with you in protection of your rights, and unable to find anyone to stand with you, for they have already been selectively enforced into oblivion.

It's interesting to see The Native write in support of unions. Almost as interesting as his/her description of Hardee's food as "delicacies."

Just goes to show you...

Northern Albemarle doesn't need an Arby's, but it sure needs a Thai place.

"The educated elite tend to have done a fair amount of self reflection and understand the nature of projection­. The reactionar­y angry supporters of the GOP goons tend to have no idea why they are angry nor why their victim mentality is counterpro­ductive to their pursuit of happiness."

Balanced Egg

His radio ads (while it was still Arby's) were both annoying and offensive. I made it a point never to eat there.

Mr. Slonaker is what he is....a conservative posing as a "libertarian" who whines about government and "burdensome" regulations. He even sees Arby's corporate rules as "burdensome."

Flat out, he wants to do whatever he wants to do. The Albemarle judge told him it doesn't work that way.

It would appear the Mr. Slonaker got served his just desserts....

@The Native: A coupla things...

"No doubt Scott would have found the 56 men who signed our Declaration to be ââ?¬Å?gasbags” as well."

You know what? I'm not sure how you define "native" but my family has been in Virginia since 1648, and although I'm of immigrant stock, it's pretty early immigrant stock, and I've been raised on a diet (perhaps a tad too rich) of Jefferson and Madison worship.

Although I've pretty well - and happily - internalized all that, it is true that they - along with Madison's Federalist bi-partisan buddy Hamilton - were bloviating gasbags at times. It never hurts to dress your ideas up in a little pompous verbosity so as to dazzle the crowd, and I see you are a fellow-traveler in that vocation, so I'll kindly thank you to stop trying to corner the market on First Principles of the Founding Fathers while you wrap yourself up in your patriotic flag.

"Pray that you do not find yourself in the situation of needing a coalition to stand with you in protection of your rights,..."

Mmmm...that's pretty much the definition of a union!

"...and unable to find anyone to stand with you, for they have already been selectively enforced into oblivion."

And that is pretty much the history of labor unions since Reagan.

@Angel Eyes

"All that just to burn a brushpile. This is stupid and just provides employment for surplus public employees."

Um, no, all that because it's a lot cheaper in employee time to have existing employees issue a permit and ONE fireman come out and inspect than it is to send out a couple of fire companies to put out a subdivision after one fool let their brush-pile get out of control and turn into a forest fire. Or were you being sarcastic?

Very well said Scott. I find it very entertaining to see those who always have it 'right' to want to pretend they are somehow superior because they are 'locals' and no one else gets it. Others who are 'locals' get it. They use the flag for personal gain.

We had names for people like that during the Revolution as well.

Thank you, Caesonia, for reminding us that many local business people are quite able to succeed even in this environment. I'm thinking of Bodo's: from what I can see, a wildly successful local business that has been able to expand, that keeps customers happy, and seems to have done so by making extremely wise business decisions. I'm thinking of Fabio's pizza, which is expanding, which makes a good product, whose employees interact with customers really well. I'm thinking of Sticks Kebob Shop--good food, hitting a niche that not many other casual restaurant hit, maybe a bit high priced but clearly making enough people happy. I'm thinking of Christian's Pizza--again, maybe not to everyone's taste or price point, but doing enough things right to expand. Why do local conservatives want us to cry big tears for someone who couldn't make a go of an Arby's franchise, where for pete's sake the formula is completely laid out for you? why aren't local conservatives more focused on the local business owners who actually do a good job? is it because those business owners aren't spending all their time at Tea Party meetings crying "help, help, I'm being oppressed by the big bad board of supervisors"? is it possible that local conservatives don't actually care about business and what it takes to make a business succeed and are more interested in wallowing in narratives of victimization coming from other white men like themselves?

I was hoping they were going to turn it into an Olive Garden!

We need a: "Tanglewood Ordinary" or a "Thomas House". Real, down-home country food. Good stuff.