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Wilkes-Barre business wins "Barstool Fund"

Chacko's Family Bowling Center has won $15,000 a month for the foreseeable future.

A longtime business in Wilkes-Barre has been handed a lifeline from the website Barstool Sports.

The owners of Chacko's Family Bowling Center learned during an unexpected FaceTime call that they won money to help them stay afloat during the pandemic. 

Kara Hodorowski was wrapping presents on Christmas Eve when she answered a video call on her phone.

On the other line was Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports, letting Kara know that her family's business, Chacko's Family Bowling Center in Wilkes-Barre, had been chosen to receive grant money from what Portnoy has dubbed the "Barstool Fund."

Chacko's has been hard hit by the latest COVID-19 restrictions in Pennsylvania.

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"It was heartbreaking, sort of. It's just, you're finally getting back to normal, and people are starting to feel comfortable coming back out with restrictions, obviously. And then we have to find out that our busiest time of the year we were going to be shut down," said Kara Hodorowski.

When Portnoy put out a call last week on social media looking for businesses that needed help, Kara and her sisters decided to apply.

"We all talked to each other and said, 'why not, what do we have to lose, let's give it a shot. What are the chances that this would ever happen, you know?" said Hodorowski. 

Hodorowski learned that Chacko's will received $15,000 a month until the pandemic is over.

The business met Barstool's only requirement for the money: they had to continue to pay their employees. 

Chacko's has only been open for takeout these past few weeks. 

"It's great that they can get some additional income, we're here to get some takeout to help support them, but it doesn't make up for what they're going to lose," said Rob Cardillo of Kingston. 

The money from the Barstool Fund means Chacko's survival.

Hodorowski says she feels relief knowing that the family tradition will continue.

"Whatever does come next, we at least have this amount to try to pay enough of our bills to make it through if we have to deal with another situation like this, another closure, more restrictions, whatever comes next," said Hodorowski. 

Barstool Sports plans to distribute several million dollars to small businesses across the country.

"Thank you so much for this. This is giant, and to be able to say something like this to my dad before Christmas, is just amazing. I'm shaking so much," said Hodorowski on the FaceTime call with Portnoy. 

In addition to the Barstool Fund, Barstool Sports has set up a shop for Chacko's merchandise.