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L.B. Grand

L.B. Grand owners include pandemic-related restrictions on capacity as reason for closing restaurant

By Press Release

The Farmer Family released the following statement yesterday about their decision to close the L.B. Grand Restaurant in Le Roy.

To our patrons and community members,

After significant and careful consideration, it is with a heavy heart that we share with you we have made the decision to permanently close the L.B. Grand Steak and Spaghetti House restaurant.

This determination was not made lightly, and only after considerable review of all options. Despite our best efforts to succeed, over the past few months it has become increasingly apparent that keeping our doors open is no longer possible.

The factors that led to this decision are primarily a consequence of the pandemic including the resulting required closure and subsequent restrictions on indoor dining. With no available outdoor seating, a current mandated capacity of only 50% indoors, and the rising cost of food due to supply chain interruption, it is not feasible for us to continue operations.

We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our wonderful staff for their years of service. A special thanks is in order for their truly exceptional resilience and patience over the last few months in handling continually changing regulations and procedures due to the pandemic. We sincerely appreciate their hard work and dedication.

In addition, we would like to thank the Piazza Family for the opportunity to be a part of the L.B. Grand family and to serve our community. We remain fully committed to the town of Le Roy and are proud that we are able to continue to provide service in other capacities.

The Farmer Family

Le Roy artist completes her biggest project yet -- a mural on the side of L.B. Grand

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and story by Mary Margaret. 

LE ROY -- Local artist Mandy Humphrey has completed her colorful mural on the outside wall of the L.B. Grand Restaurant on Main Street in the Village of Le Roy and it’s her biggest project to date, she said.

Humphrey has a master’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in Art Education and owns The ART of Mandy, a studio in Le Roy, which offers classes to all ages.

In order to complete a mural of this size, which according to Bill Farmer, owner of L.B. Grand, is 33 x 96 feet, Humphrey learned to use a high lift and worked on sketching out the artwork ahead of time for scale.

Details and drawings of her vision for the mural were submitted to both Farmer and GO ART! for approval. After reviewing her submission, the project was greenlighted by both parties and she received a grant from GO ART! to complete the creative project.

“I hope this artwork helps to beautify our town as well as inspire others to create," Humphrey said. "Art, simply put, is a form of communication but it doesn’t need to be straight forward – everyone can interpret what they want from this and it can evoke different emotions.

"In a world where we are constantly told what to think, how to feel and how to act, it’s refreshing to take a step back and wonder a little bit.”

Humphrey hopes to work with other business owners in the future who might like a mural on the sides of their buildings. She just completed a freshening up of the colors of the American flag on the Tully’s restaurant building on East Main Street in Batavia.

L.B. Grand celebrate's St. Joseph's Day with a grand reopening

By Howard B. Owens


Bill Farmer cut the ribbon Tuesday, St. Joseph's Day, for the grand reopening of the L.B. Grand Restaurant, two years after he acquired the business and building at 37 Main St., Le Roy.

In the past two years, Farmer has made a lot of changes inside the building (previously: While Farmer's Creekside Inn prospers, Bill Farmer keeps busy in the Village of Le Roy) and Tuesday he said there is still much work planned for the coming year.

In addition to upgrades inside, Farmer is planning to restore the building's facade (he's already put up a new awning).

After the ribbon cutting, guests enjoyed a traditional St. Joseph's Day's meal. Chef Sean Wolf said based on the response this year to the first St. Joseph's Day meal offered by L.B. Grand, next year the staff will plan on laying out a traditional St. Joseph's Day table.

Top photo: Tom Turnbull, president, Chamber of Commerce, Mary Blevins, with the Chamber, Mayor Greg Rogers, Bill Farmer, Chef Sean Wolf, Ethan Olsowski, L.B. Grand staff, and Chamber Board Member Jeff Cook.


Legislator Shelly Stein, Chef Sean Wolf, Bill Farmer, Mayor Greg Rogers.


By ben bonarigo

The New York State budget deficit is now a familiar refrain to the taxpaying public and the following list focuses on the shortfall of tax revenues in the western part of the state. Genesee specifically stands out as the county with the greatest fall in tax revenues. Remember the source of the greatest losses came from the large financial institutions that created the problems leading to decreased revenues everywhere in the world. Most of those institutions are centered in New York City and they comprise the greatest part of the deficit. Below is the carnage of Western New York.


Erie — $634.6 million, down 3.2 percent

Niagara — $96.6 million, down 1.6 percent

Allegany — $17.2 million, down 2.2 percent

Cattaraugus — $32.5 million, down 1.2 percent

Chautauqua — $52.2 million, up 1.2 percent

Genesee — $32.1 million, down 6.5 percent

Orleans — $13.4 million, down 4.1 percent

Wyoming — $14.2 million, down 4.8 percent

Monroe County ___$385.7 million, down 6.2 percent

It is not too far a stretch to realize that the state Tax Department had some bells going off when these figures were made available. (They have been excerpted from reports in the Buffalo Evening Express and the New York Times).

In fact, as was discussed in an earlier article, the Tax Department has zeroed in on small business as a source of increasing revenues utilizing some very dubious methods.

They are the small businesses that are, in fact, the dynamo of capitalism in America. These small businesses account for half the GDP (gross domestic product) and more than half of all the employment in this great nation and subsequently in the state of New York. Of these small businesses, those with less than 10 employees, approximately 75%, are the top PROVIDERS OF JOBS  in this country.  However some of the more daunting problems are completely out of their personal control such as:  

ever increasing insurance costs ( liability ,disability, health), rising energy costs and taxes, taxes, taxes.  National Business Review published a survey last month of the top problems and concerns facing small businesses. Out of the top 10 problems rated as most severe, half of them had to do with taxes and/or regulatory burdens, including:



Federal Taxes on Business Income

Property Taxes (Real, Inventory, or Personal Property)

Tax Complexity

Unreasonable Government Regulations

State Taxes and Sales Taxes on Business Income

Small businesses PROVIDE JOBS. The small business and their employees PAY TAXES.  They drive the economy!  To cripple them with allegations of unpaid taxes and threats of discontinuing their operations has the tone of a lynching . The result  of these attacks will result in LOSS OF JOBS AND INCREASING TAXES . Doesn’t that seem counter-productive to you?  What is the Tax Department thinking and where is the logic for their actions?

We stand on the highest steeples and shout our disapproval of our governing leaders  but all to no avail. We continue to re-elect them and whine about their ineptitude. So what can be done in a time like this? Should we not call on the local state representatives to make an attempt to stand up for a constituent. Is that too much to ask of those who have been elected to positions of supposed responsibility?

More importantly, remember the legislator who helped when the next election rolls around.

L.B. Grand travesty

By ben bonarigo

Though a retired physician living in Florida I am a native Batavian with more than a passing interest in the discussion of the taxation issue involving the L.B. Grand restaurant in LeRoy.

After giving considerable thought and engaging in review of some New York State journals and available news reports I made the effort to read  some of the formidably redundant tax code.  Then, following a quick review of statistical methods, I made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain the statistical method employed in the state Tax Code.
Any questioning of the bureaucracy,as you could guess, resulted in the usual government endless merry-go-round.

Some facts however did surface and these I want to share so the New York State Department of Taxation motives will be a little more transparent.

Years of state deficits and unbalanced budgets have created the need for the Tax Department to collect more so that cuts in budgets could be avoided.  In New York there exists a budget deficit greater than $8 billion dollars.

The top tax  enforcement official, William Comiskey, with the backing of Legislators and Govenor Patterson have unleashed the Department of Taxation and Finance to radically increase the number of audits on small businesses to build the state coffers.

Thus far the goals do not imply anything unreasonable.  However, the methods utilized and the individuals who have been hired in increasing numbers to levy these audits create serious skepticism.  Dubious sampling methods defy statistical plausibility.  These methods include one day samples which are inexplicably extrapolated to define years of income.

That method would be tantamount to estimating the average daily temperature in Batavia, N.Y. by taking a sample of one day then applying it to all days, in all seasons, for three years.  Sound crazy?  It is!   This method may be employed if a small business cannot produce records that the Tax Department considers acceptable and that includes receipts that have been carefully saved but have faded because the vehicle was thermal paper.  Such is the case with L.B. Grand Restaurant.

As stated by a N.Y. tribunal ruling on such a case, “A lack of records does not equate to a presumption that taxable sales have been underreported.  This does not give the division carte  blanche to simply extract convenient mumbers from an index and use them in a manner for which they were never intended.”

The target of such oppressive techniques would  be forced to resort to legal help at a huge  expense.  In many instances this has resulted in dismissal of the claims made by the Tax Department.  In the case of L.B Grand an alleged underpayment of sales taxes amounts to $247 thousand over three years has been decided even though gross receipts are approximately $500 thousand per year.  Sound crazy?  It is!

Involving tax attorneys would be certain to alleviate and possibly get rid of the charges.  Isn’t it amazing that a charge made with certainty by the State could almost inexplicably be made to go away?  Isn’t that a scary concept?   Pay the bill to the state or get a lawyer and he could make it disappear----for a staggering sum paid by the accused to preserve innocence.

Where does this place the small business owner?  I will not pander  your emotions though the overwhelming  mental anguish and suffering of  the innocent is palpable to me.

Think it over.  Can all of this really be happening?   In America?

Owners of L.B. Grand will fight $247K back-tax bill

By Howard B. Owens

New York is apparently turning over every stone in an effort to find more revenue to help close its billions in annual budget gaps.

They're now going after restaurants and bars, trying to find a reason to demand more money from the business owners.

Three weeks ago, L.B. Grand in Le Roy got hit with a $247,000 bill for back taxes and penalties.

"I had a nervous breakdown," said co-owner Ron Shoemaker. "I did. I had to go to the hospital. I just lost it. I said, 'My God, I couldn't pay that kind of money if I took the rest of my life.' The place doesn't make enough money to pay that."

The bill was based entirely on a one-day audit on a Thursday in January.

That day, 81 percent of the customers paid cash. Shoemaker said the restaurant and bar's average is 54 percent (he's double checked this figure by reviewing monthly records going back to 2008).

That 27-percent difference is significant to the state. If L.B. Grand were indeed doing 81 percent cash business on a daily basis, that would mean the 40-year-old landmark restaurant was under reporting its total revenue. The state would suspect a restaurant owner in that situation of pocketing all of those extra tens and twenties that aren't showing up in its cash report in order to avoid sales tax.

Shoemaker said he's kept meticulous books and has paid the State every dime the restaurant owes.

His partner, Ron Piazza, said Shoemaker is the kind of guy who can't stand to leave a bill unpaid or for his accounting to go undone.

What got L.B. Grand into this mess, though, is that Shoemaker didn't know he was required to save every guest check (the slips of paper waiters write customer orders on).

When a state auditor found this discrepancy in September, he scheduled L.B. Grand for a random, unscheduled on-site audit.

Six auditors descended on L.B. Grand (the state has hired hundreds of new auditors for this process) and just hung out. One guy sat at the bar, working a crossword puzzle, and  watching every transaction. At the end of the day, Shoemaker provided him with a print out of all that day's business.

It was a fairly average business day, except for the higher than normal amount of cash transactions, Shoemaker said.

Not only can't Shoemaker and Piazza pay the tax bill, they said, they're ready to fight back.

"I don't feel like I owe them anything," Shoemaker said.

Piazza said that while it's no laughing matter, that's about all he can do.

"I can't take it as seriously as he does," Piazza said. "It (the assessment) is just so foolish. They might as well put a one in front of it. It's just foolish."

Shoemaker, who spent seven years in the military and 30 years in skilled jobs before getting into the restaurant business, wonders what the state might have to gain by putting the Main Street eatery and tavern out of business. He figures that between off-track betting, lottery and sales tax, L.B. Grand generates $600,000 a year in revenue for New York, and that doesn't count the taxes paid by six employees who would be out of work if the tax bill holds up.

L.B. Grand isn't alone in facing aggressive auditing by the state, and the story of another restaurant gives Shoemaker and Piazza a glimmer of hope that they can fight the taxation department and win.

Mark Supples, owner of Mother's Restaurant on Virginia Place in Buffalo, also failed to keep his guest checks -- he estimates he would have been storing more than one million from the six previous years if he had -- and was hit with a $1.1 million tax bill after his audit.

"The methods they use are very similar to methods that were used by La Cosa Nostra, also known as the mob," Supples told WGRZ. "What they do is come up with a figure that will really scare you, then they settle for a lesser figure. So basically it's an extortion practice which is really quite effective because the figures they come up with are pretty scary."

The state offered Supples a $250,000 settlement and Supples declined. Instead, he spent $150,000 on legal fees (money he hopes to recover from the state) and won.

From WGRZ:

"When you go to (tax) court, you're presumed guilty and you have to prove you're innocent," Supples said.

In particular, (the court) found that for Supples to have done the volume of business and made the kind of money the state had estimated, every table in his restaurant would have had to have been full for eleven hours a day, seven days a week, for six years.

"I really thought it was time somebody stood up to these bullies and extortionists and expose them for what they are, and because of my case, the state has changed its methods," Supples said.

For its part, New York admits that the new aggressive audits (it's rarely enforced the requirement to keep guest checks before) is being done to help close budget gaps.

Even so, William Comiskey, deputy commissioner for Tax Enforcement, didn't express a lot of sympathy for bars and restaurants that aren't keeping guest checks.

Comiskey said: "We encounter a lot of businesses that tell us they don't have those records, and I'm frankly a little perplexed by it, because they would need the records we're looking at and asking for to run their business properly. But either way, they're required under the law to maintain them, and so I think it's reasonable to require them to have those records."

L.B. Grand is now keeping those guest checks, Shoemaker said. They had their cash register vendor reprogram their machines to print out all of the guest checks at the end of every day so that can be filed. But like many restaurants, the guest checks will be printed on thermal paper, so the ink will fade away to nothing within weeks. But at least the guest checks will be saved.

"I went from having a nervous breakdown over this, to now I'm just mad," Shoemaker said. "I'm going to fight them on this with every breath I have left in my body."

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