Furry fans give generously to Fernando; over $20,000 raised
Business owner Fernando Decarvalho faces financial ruin; his eatery, Fernando's Cafe, was forced to announce its impending closure last month. Fans hope their money will keep it open until Anthrocon 2012, and beyond.
The donations are to be given to Fernando at a planned meetup today (April 21) at his cafe. Over 100 have signed up to eat at the restaurant; several plan to attend in fursuit.
Update: $21,000 was handed over by "Anthrocons"; WTAE coverage - event stream [Dobie] (donations handed over at 33:33). Fernando expressed his thanks, while noting that his landlord has another potential renter in negotiation for his space after June.
Anthrocon CEO Uncle Kage solicited donations to Fernando in a LiveJournal post and video appeal, in which he said that "the first Pittsburgh businessman to roll out the welcome mat" and "our best friend in the city" was "going to have to shut down":
Fernando realized last year that he was not going to be able to stay in business much longer. But he was desperate to stay in business just long enough for one more Anthrocon. He was not able to make it. He finds himself now, deep in debt, with no way to pay it off.
Just hours later, the donations were flooding in. By the third day, over $8,800 had been sent from more than 250 donors in 6 countries. Fizz Otter raised $500 from the sale of glow badges, and entertainer 2 Gryphon promised a "secret show", and a private party to those giving $100. According to Yappy Slyfox, Fernando has debt of $35,000; $4,000 would keep his cafe open until Anthrocon, while ~$10,000 would tide the business over until AC2013.
Restaurants are a risky business, and the current economic climate has shuttered many businesses formerly frequented by Anthrocon attendees. Cory's Subs has closed, to be replaced by Lesvos Gyros - while the Steel City Diner's replacement, Big Moma's, has itself been replaced. While these had not gone to the same lengths as Fernando's to welcome fans, some furs still questioned giving money to support a for-profit business.
As with all gifts to individuals, the donations are not tax-deductible. Fernando should not owe tax on them, as long as there is no consideration (such as a promise to keep his cafe open through Anthrocon 2012).