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Reopen or not? Restaurants across Georgia must now balance safety and business

For so many, the decision is expected too soon.

ATLANTA — It's one of 18,000 Georgia restaurants who are now allowed to reopen dine in services starting Monday. But Storico Fresco in Buckhead says they will only serve pick-up for now.

“No one’s opening on Monday," said owner Pietro Gianni. "No one feels safe. No one feels it’s the adequate thing to do.”

Gianni says he is on an email thread with dozens of Atlanta restaurateurs. He says none feel comfortable to fully reopen at this point in the coronavirus pandemic. Others in Roswell, Decatur, and across the state have been just as vocal in public. All are scrambling to figure out safety with little direction.

RELATED: Despite clearance to reopen, many restaurants sticking to take-out, for now

Credit: WXIA

"We’ve not been told anything,” Gianni says. “How do we serve customers? How do we take away wine glasses? This virus stays on the gloves, so would we have to throw out gloves with every glass we pick up? It’s almost unimaginable.”

Alon Balshan of Alon’s Bakery agrees it’s too early. But starting Monday, the chairs stacked up on his patio will be seats for customers who choose to dine outside.

“Because we have a large patio, we are able to put tables 6-8 feet apart," Balshan says. "The people that feel good about it, they can sit far enough away where they can feel safe enough.”

All say it’s a challenge for a business owner, trying to stay afloat, and trying to know for sure what will keep customers safe. Each of the 18,000 restaurants must now figure it out.

“It’s risky," Gianni said. "You could open at a loss and get even more in debt. Everything we decide has a much bigger impact in the trickling down.”

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 


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