The Westside Provisions District Italian restaurant posted that between the employee’s positive test result and the nightly curfews due to protests across the city this week, Forza Storico made the decision to close until “conditions of safety and well-being are met.” According to the restaurant’s post, all of Forza Storico’s employees will be tested for COVID-19.
Forza Storico reopened for takeout in mid-April, and like its sister restaurant Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante in Buckhead, included a small outdoor market selling fresh-cut pastas and sauces, olive oil, and wine. After restaurants were given the OK by the governor to begin reopening for dine-in service April 27, owners Pietro Gianni, chef Michael Patrick, and Stephen Peterson told Eater Atlanta they were taking their time to assess how and when their restaurants would reopen the dining rooms and patios. The partners had been targeting a mid-May reopening date, but ultimately pushed the opening out another week.
Gianni tells Eater Atlanta the employee is doing well and is not currently experiencing any symptoms. However, out of an abundance of caution for the safety of his staff and patrons, and with the nightly curfews in place, Gianni says they felt compelled to close the restaurant.
“There really are no rules on closing a business if someone tests positive, only that the CDC mandates that if you are symptomatic, you get tested. If you’re negative, you go back to work. If you’re positive, you stay home for ten days, and when you test negative, you go back to work,” Gianni says. “Once we were aware of this person testing positive, we decided to close the restaurant, get everyone tested on our dime, and put it online for people to know.”
So far, no other employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and Forza Storico will receive a thorough cleaning on Friday. The restaurant could reopen as early as Monday, barring an extension of the city-wide curfew.
Since reopening in May, Forza Storico has reconfigured the dining room and patio to reduce capacity and provide more space between tables. The host stand has been moved outdoors and away from people dining. Time limits are placed on those dining in based on party size. Reservations are highly encouraged. Read more about Forza Storico’s COVID-19 safety measures here.
Storico Fresco remains open, but with limited capacity.
This latest round of curfews, prompted by several days of protests in Atlanta over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, are forcing many Atlanta restaurants and bars already under immense financial strain caused by month-long closures and reduced capacity requirements to shut down earlier in the day. Restaurants and bars reopened for dine-in service are now required by the state to undergo extra sanitation each day to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
But Gianni worries the six-foot rule the CDC recommends in dining rooms isn’t sustainable and will ultimately hurt restaurants’ bottomlines. Both restaurants helped deliver 24,000 meals to Emory University Hospital over the last two months. After speaking with a senior physician there about the CDC recommendations, Gianni says he was told not to expect these recommendations to go away anytime soon.
“It’s hard enough for restaurants right now financially dealing with the six-foot distancing, extra cleaning needed, and capacity rules for COVID-19, now we have to deal with curfews. We just can’t win,” Gianni says.
After the curfew was extended in the city through the weekend on Wednesday, Joy Huffman, the owner of Sweet Auburn bar and restaurant Clue’s and Cocktails, told Eater it wasn’t helping the momentum Atlanta restaurants are building with people returning to dining rooms.
“This is just a tough time for the restaurant industry, and it seems like we can’t catch a break.”
Update, June 4, 3:15 p.m. This story was updated with comments and new information from Pietro Gianni, co-owner of Froza Storico and Storico Fresco.
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.