Patriot's displaced: Arby's reclaims its name
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 The website for Cville Inflatables is also no longer active.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.