UTICA, NY - What could be more devastating than the government shutting down your beloved business due to a global pandemic? Making the tough decision to shutter it yourself.
"It's not safe. The public does not feel safe. The staff does not feel safe. I don't feel safe putting our staff and our employees in harm's way," says Francis Pezzolanella, owner of Ocean Blue in downtown Utica.
Ocean Blue has moved to takeout only. Knowing that COVID-19 would be a long-term issue. They've also moved to an online marketplace, bringing the consumer on board in the cookng process. They made these moves in the wake of record-high new cases in Oneida County.
"We've shifted to direct to consumer. We're shipping food directly out of our kitchen, packaging it up, shipping it with dry ice and ice packs and getting almost at home meals that you finish it off and cook it at home," says Pezzolanella.
They deliver locally and ship to cities around the country that have shut down.
Pezzolanella's new venture, Nostro, is on hold, likely until the spring.
"Nostro's designed to be a party, and that's the last thing we could have right now, so when we could open up as a party, we're gonna open it back up," says Pezzolanella.
The Celtic Harp, on Varick Street in Utica, broke the bad news on their Facebook page Friday: they're closing at 10:00 p.m. Saturday until it's safe to reopen.
Iconic by Chesterfield, in the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton, relied heavily on business travelers - a market share that's been decimated by the pandemic.
"During the week, it was amazing. You would think weekdays were weekends for us here because we heavily relied on business travelers," says manager Rachael Russo.
"I'm just not sure if, like, the community is aware that we do offer spaced out indoor seating, we have the mezzanine for even more spaced out seating. It's beautiful up there. Aesthetics are great. Also now, curbside and takeout, again, something we never did before until post-COVID," ays Russo.