YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many restaurants around the Youngstown area will be open Friday night for New Year’s Eve celebrations but a few aren’t so lucky. Some didn’t have a choice but to close because their staff got COVID-19 and they couldn’t operate with so few healthy employees.
On Thursday, we talked with the owner of The Federal downtown who said the decision was one he had to make despite business being really great.
It’s happening around the state.
“Some restaurants have closed. They’ve closed for a week or two and that has to do with what we understand, they don’t have enough employees,” said John Barker, with the Ohio Restaurant Association.
That’s exactly the case for a few restaurants here in the Valley like The Federal, which was done up as a pop-up Christmas bar but has been closed since Christmas Eve.
“We had a planned closure all next week anyway, the week after Christmas to take the Christmas decorations down. So we probably won’t open for normal business hours until the 12th of January,” said Dan Martini, owner of The Federal.
Because the Christmas bar was such a hit, the closing was during one of the busiest times they’d seen.
“I probably canceled 700 reservations this week,” Martini said.
But with positive COVID-19 tests popping up within the staff, it was a decision Martini had to make.
“Once one person got sick it spread pretty easy throughout the staff. I mean, everyone is in close contact every day,” Martini said.
They did what they could to keep customers and staff safe, closing the “Christmas on Federal” every night at 11 p.m. and requiring seated reservations.
“It is not really possible for the employees to stay 6 feet apart. A lot of restaurants don’t even have a 6-foot line so when you have 10 feet of workable kitchen space and you have three or four guys or you have two floor runners or servers working on one drink station,” Martini said.
It’s something we could continue to see from restaurants especially after the new year.
“I think it’s best that we shut down now because we let it run its course with the employees. Now I don’t have to keep reopening and closing. It just sucks that we lost the last week of Christmas,” Martini said.
And he’s not the only one. Aqua Pazzo in Boardman announced on social media that it’s closing down Thursday night and on New Year’s Eve.
“We tried every possible way to get through the next few days but found it an impossible task. What’s important now is keeping one another healthy so we can reopen sometime next week,” owners wrote in a social media post.
Another restaurant that’s closed for New Year’s Eve is Michael Alberini’s. The business posted on social media as well saying it’s having staffing shortages. It will be closed through the weekend.
Owner Michael Alberini and staff said they deeply regret their decision and that they anticipate returning to normal hours on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
Charbenay’s Wine on the River also announced that it was canceling its New Year’s Eve Masquerade event due to an increase in COVID-19 cases across the Valley. The business is offering refunds for tickets that have already been purchased.
So the best thing you can do? If you’re not feeling well, stay home.
“If you are feeling sick just don’t go out to eat. If you have a reservation, cancel it. I’m sure the restaurant would rather you cancel than come in with symptoms, and that’s gonna protect the servers,” Martini said.