Restaurant industry watchers have predicted rampant closings caused by the coronavirus lockdown of bars and dining rooms, and the weekend brought what appears to be the first wave of announced shutdowns as three long-running restaurants in the Philadelphia region called it quits.
“Announced” is the keyword. Many restaurants that had intended to close temporarily will not reopen, though their owners are declining to state this formally.
Other restaurateurs that have in recent weeks pivoted to takeout and delivery are taking a new, harder look at an uncertain future that will include fewer seats, more restrictions, and even tighter margins. In many cases, restaurateurs are assessing whether the loans they accepted through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program are a blessing or a curse.
Meanwhile, no date for ending the lockdown of dining rooms and bars has been set, confounding some owners.
Those that announced their closings, effective immediately, are Farmicia, which opened in September 2004 on Third Street near Market in Old City; Mad River Bar & Grille, a watering hole that opened in Manayunk in November 2008; and Vitarelli’s in Cherry Hill, which opened in 1975 as a deli and grew into an Italian BYOB and catering facility.
Farmicia owners took to Facebook with its goodbye: “It is with a sad heart and with deepest regrets, that we must inform you that FARMiCiA Restaurant will be permanently closing its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic,” and thanking customers.
Mad River general manager Jamie Powell announced the closing on Facebook, explaining that “the biggest truth of all is that Manayunk is just a different town anymore as far as nightlife goes. We decided as a squad it was just time to cash 'em in.”
Mad River took over for Grape Street Pub in 2004, in a stone building on Main Street at Shurs Lane that backed up to the Schuylkill.
At Vitarelli’s, which opened in 1975 as a 900-square-foot deli in a strip center on Kings Highway and morphed into an Italian BYOB and catering facility, a farewell note on the papered-over door told customers that it would not reopen. Vitarelli’s served its last meal in February.