Some restaurants, small businesses re-open while others close their doors for good

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Small businesses across Pennsylvania are now having to make the tough decision to close their doors for good, illegally re-open or wait for the coronavirus to pass.

Dalessandro's Steaks in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia opened Monday after being closed since mid-March. The famous cheesesteak joint has new takeout procedures to ensure customers are a safe distance apart.

"Your options are pretty limited, especially with all these restaurants you can't even get takeout at, so I was pretty happy to see it open up," said customer Jordan Kensinger of Roxborough.

Volo Coffeehouse on Main Street in Manayunk also re-emerged Monday, adopting new takeout and pickup procedures to accommodate social distancing.

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"I've been on my husband a lot to open back up and I just said 'let's do Monday,'" said Owner Julia George. "We just thought that people are getting restless and you know, there was a lot of restrictions being lifted up depending on what state."

But other restaurants and small businesses around Pennsylvania are deciding to close. After 15 years, Farmicia Restaurant in Old City announced it is one of the latest victims of the coronavirus.

Mad River Manayunk Bar and Grille also announced it will close, stating in a Facebook post that Manayunk nightlife has changed.

John Longstreet, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association said surveys show about one in three restaurants will close because of COVID-19.
"It's devastating first for people," said Longstreet. "That's the number one thing. Many restaurateurs, mortgages are guaranteed with their homes. So you're talking about not just losing your restaurant, you're talking about losing your home, your way of life.

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Longstreet added that restaurants have notoriously thin margins and can't operate at 25% capacity, which may be required once they re-open.

"In order to be able to survive, they've got to be able to get back at full capacity or find some alternate source of revenue," said Longstreet. "So consequently I think a lot of people have looked at it said I can't see getting out of this. They're out of cash, they furloughed their employees."

George said the coffeehouse will keep pushing forward and hopefully hire back their 12 employees, but she's nervous about other businesses on Main Street.

"Small businesses rely on on people coming in and interfacing with you on a one on one basis so I just fear that a lot of the community will suffer and we will lose a lot of really great businesses," said George.

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