Coronavirus News: 7 On Your Side helps save Navy vet's NYC restaurant that opened during pandemic

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- A New York City restaurant owned by a Navy veteran didn't have the best timing when its grand opening happened the day before restaurants were ordered closed.

The brand-new business survived saluting soldiers with take-out, until a giant credit card payment for thousands of meals pushed them to the brink of bankruptcy.

That is when Louis Quinones sent 7 On Your Side an SOS for help.

"I thought we were were going to lose the restaurant," Quinones said.

He transformed a strip mall cellphone store into his dream: Island Rotisserie Chicken. Their specialty is his wife's lip smacking empanadas.

But in mid-March, just a day after their grand opening, the rotisserie was roasted and closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

"It was a horror," Quinones said.

Luckily the Navy veteran was thrown a lifeline from the U.S. military and landed a key contract to cook lunches and dinners for the National Guard at Fort Wadsworth.

"They owed me $19,643," he said. That's more than 1,500 meals cooked and delivered.

And in April, the National Guard paid in full, using a state-issued credit card.

But for nearly a month, that money has been in limbo and officially on hold.

Quinones had to close down and was only able to open sporadically.

"We had (to) pay back the rent, pay many things," his wife Lilia said.

Cash-strapped and their bank account in the negative, Quinones had to sell his van to stay afloat.

As far as the bank's reason for non-payment?

"We flagged your account because it might be drug money or I might be funding terrorism," Quinones said.

That is what he was told even after receiving a letter from the head purchasing agent at the fort confirming the charge was legit.

"We were just so frustrated, we didn't know where else to find help," Quinones said.

That's when Lilia found the perfect recipe for success - recommending a call to 7 On Your Side.

Within hours of receiving their email, we contacted the bank and the credit card servicer.

"I'm very emotional and thank you very much," Lilia said.

Quinones said they were jumping for joy when they got the good news.

The family got the full amount, $19,643, plus hundreds refunded in overdraft fees.

Now they're back open for take-out and making meals for our hard working military.

"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me solve this problem," Quinones said.


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