Andiamo owners want fellow Michigan restaurants to defy dine-in shutdown

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THOMAS HAWK, FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Thomas Hawk, Flickr Creative Commons

Joe and Rosalie Vacari, the owners of the Andiamo restaurant chain, are urging fellow Michigan restaurants to defy the order of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan health department to “pause” indoor dining amid the surging coronavirus pandemic.

“Our industry cannot survive another extended closure,” they said in a letter. “Thousands of restaurants and tens of thousands of our employees can not survive it either. We need to band together and FIGHT BACK but we need to do this as a United Group of Michigan Restaurant Owners.”



News of the letter first broke in Detroit Free Press, which obtained a copy of it dated Nov. 24.

The Joe Vicari Group owns 25 restaurants including Andiamo and Joe Muer Seafood restaurants.



Whitmer issued a “three-week pause” on indoor dining and group gatherings that went into effect on Nov. 18. The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association filed a lawsuit in federal court to fight the order, which is scheduled to end on Dec. 9. But given the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state and the national prognosis of virus spread over the holidays, Whitmer is expected to extend the “pause.”

In the letter, the Vicaris are inviting restaurant owners and other interested parties and vendors to an informational meeting on Dec. 3 at one of their restaurants. The exact location is not listed.

In a statement to the Freep on Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said that “it sympathizes with restaurants and their workers and understands the significant financial impacts of the order.”

“However, it is necessary to save lives and protect the public health as COVID-19 cases numbers, deaths and hospitalizations have spiked dramatically,” the MDHHS continued. “We continue to urge everyone to do their part by wearing masks, physically distancing, washing their hands frequently and avoiding indoor gatherings so that restaurants can resume indoor dining as quickly and safely as possible."

The statement notes "the actions are targeted and temporary."

"Doing this also will protect the medical workers, first responders, and other essential workers putting their lives on the line to protect us."

Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA, predicts further devastation to the restaurant industry.

"If the closure is prolonged and federal stimulus dollars are not made immediately available, upwards of 6,000 more restaurants will permanently close by spring, " Winslow said, according to court documents.

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