Roanoke Valley rallies around Mac and Bob's restaurant

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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ7) Lunch hour is normally busy at Mac and Bob's restaurant in Salem, but on Thursday it was busier than usual.

Many of the customers who came for a midday meal, also came to support the popular restaurant and its owners.

Facing a lawsuit they said could put them out of business, the owners announced Wednesday they are filing for bankruptcy protection.

"I was shocked honestly," said Jennifer Taylor. "Mac and Bob's has been such an institution in Salem for so long."

"Mac and Bob's is Salem," said Tracy Bandy. "It's always a place to go. It's where we come to celebrate just about everything. So the fact that they were being taken advantage of, from everything we've heard, it's makes us angry."

At issue, was a requirement that servers contribute one percent of their sales to the restaurant's dishwashers, an apparent violation of U.S. Department of Labor rules.

A number of large restaurant chains have faced similar lawsuits and multi-million dollar settlements in recent months. The owners of Mac and Bob's said they have no choice but to file for bankruptcy protection.

"In this case, it was an innocent mistake," said the restaurant's attorney Todd Leeson. "Nobody had raised a concern for decades. Mac and Bob's didn't benefit a dime from the pay to the dishwashers. So the potential remedy far exceeds the mistake in this case."

The Texas attorney who filed the lawsuits on behalf of two former employees declined to comment on pending litigation.

By Thursday evening, a gofundme page set up to help the restaurant's owners pay their legal fees had raised over $94,000 from more than 800 people in the last three days.