MANCHESTER, NH – One month to the day after making the tough but financially necessary decision to combine two popular eateries Republic and Campo Enoteca under one roof, the Elm Street restaurant announced it was temporarily closing due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.
“Priority No. 1 is getting everyone tested,” said General Manager Peter Macone. “There’s a miracle scenario where everyone tests negative and we have enough bodies to reopen, but we don’t expect that to be probable. We have a small crew. We really don’t have the back-up crew to plug in, so we’re looking at a full shut down to let everyone quarantine and wait it out.”
Macone made the announcement publicly via Facebook on Saturday. It’s a frustrating twist in what has been a difficult adjustment to life after COVID-19 for restaurant operators.
“It’s tough to know you’re following all the rules and that your staff is committed to doing it the right way, whether it’s a cook in kitchen or staff on the floor, we’re committed to the guidelines in place and making customers feel safe in our space,” said Macone.
On Sunday another downtown eatery, BluAqua, also announced via Facebook that they we’re temporarily closing due to a staff member testing positive for COVID-19:
Yesterday, I received word that a staff member tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. The staff member has not worked since Friday 9/4 and did not show any symptoms until Wednesday 9/9 at home. However, I believe the right course of action is to err on the side of caution and close temporarily until my entire staff can be tested and I am able to receive further guidance from health officials. I assure you the health and safety of my staff and patrons will always be paramount in my decision making. I will keep everyone informed the best I can and will not reopen until I believe everyone is safe to enter and enjoy bluAqua Restrobar. Thank you for your understanding. Be safe. Be good.
Macone spent his Saturday calling those who had reservations to let them know they would be closed.
He said that even with the governor’s announcement that restaurants could return to “100 percent capacity,” making sure guests feel safe and comfortable has meant a reduction in capacity.
“We could have more seats than we do but we want guests to feel comfortable. It’s more about that than a regulation or guideline. We would rather do the right thing and create the safest environment for guests than maximize capacity right now,” Macone said.
They are in a good place right now, having made the tough decision to close the popular Republic and combine operations for both restaurants under one umbrella a few doors down at Campo. Despite this setback, Macone says they will be able to survive.
“Because of our amazing kitchen staff we’ve been extremely successful in our new model, so we’re lucky in that respect,” Macone says. “A lot of restaurants would be happy to have the ability to consolidate two clientele under one room and guarantee that continued business. What we’ve seen has been very positive. Even with this setback, and whatever may come, Republic and Campo are set to come out on the other side in the spring of 2021, and that’s a guarantee.”