The patrons of the Broadway Diner won’t have to find a new haunt.
More than a year after Edward Lee Johnson was convicted of three misdemeanors involving the misuse of food stamps, the 68-year-old owner of Broadway Diner can now breathe easy. Less than a month after the city Finance Department questioned whether Johnson’s business license should be renewed, Finance Director Lori Fleming ruled Tuesday that Johnson will be allowed to keep his diner.
“I feel vindicated,” Johnson said. “It should have never come forward in the first place.”
At an Oct. 11 hearing, Fleming, whose office oversees the administration of business licenses, first considered denying Johnson’s renewal on the basis of his misdemeanor convictions.
She said Tuesday that after reviewing “the facts,” she saw no reason to revoke Johnson’s ability to own and operate the diner.
“Penal history cannot be the sole and determining factor (in this process),” she said.
Fleming received a petition from dozens of Johnson’s patrons attesting to his character and heard testimony from several residents in support of Johnson. Wally Pfeffer, an insurance agent who testified on Johnson’s behalf, said the city realized Johnson’s “good character,” a requirement to have a business license.
“We didn’t invent his good character; it existed already,” Pfeffer said. “We just attested to it.”
Johnson said that if his license had been revoked, he would have appealed his case in the 13th Circuit Court.
“I’m just thankful that level heads prevailed,” he said. “They had no justification to do this in the first place ... I think any person in business should be aware that the same thing could happen to them on the whim of a city employee.”