Decatur-based Italian-American restaurant The White Bull, owned by chef Pasquale “Pat” Pascarella, is undergoing a quick renovation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant announced the temporary closure on Facebook two weeks ago. It reopens in June.
Pascarella tells Eater Atlanta they plan to redo the kitchen and upgrade the equipment, add floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the front of the restaurant, and create a back patio, which is currently in permitting with the city of Decatur. The latter allows the restaurant to expand its outdoor dining space, beyond the few small tables out front on the sidewalk.
Recent studies indicate people may be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 within enclosed spaces, such as restaurant dining rooms. The cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven now offer restaurants a temporary outdoor dining permit. The permit expands outside seating into parking spaces and other nearby common areas.
The chef says a retail section is being added to the front of the White Bull in order to continue selling the restaurant’s pastas, sauces, and meatballs — something Pascarella began doing during the dining room shutdown. Like the retail portion of the restaurant, takeout and delivery will also become a permanent addition once the White Bull reopens next month.
“This is us getting real and understanding that the world isn’t going out for foie gras anymore. They want to see value.” Pascarella says of the renovation in an email. “[We’re] changing the menu when we [re]open to six to eight appetizers of vegetables from local farms and eight to 10 pastas every night, plus one entree special.”
The chef estimates about 50 percent of the staff at the White Bull was laid off when the restaurant pivoted to takeout and retail only two months ago. Some employees were absorbed into Pascarella’s new Neapolitan pizza and Italian restaurant Grana, which opened in late March for takeout on Piedmont Avenue in Piedmont Heights.
Pascarella just received funding from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and plans to rehire the rest of the White Bull’s staff over the next week in anticipation of the reopening in June. The PPP is part of the federal government’s CARES Act, which allows small businesses to pay employee wages while closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Stay home if sick. Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases. Numbers are now updated three times a day.