Thursday, December 3, 2020

Andiamo owners reverse course on calling for restaurants to defy Michigan COVID-19 restrictions

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2020 at 6:47 PM

  • Thomas Hawk, Flickr Creative Commons

After writing a letter last week calling on fellow Michigan restaurateurs to band together to defy Michigan's restrictions on indoor dining, the owners of the Andiamo and Joe Muer Seafood restaurant chains have changed course.

Owners Joe and Rosalie Vicari held a live-streamed meeting of restaurant owners that topped 100 viewers within moments of its 1:30 p.m. start.

Standing at a podium, Joe Vicari announced he is now seeking compromise.

“I don't want to disobey government orders. It's a losing situation," said Vicari, who noted he's laid off 700 employees since the latest state order went into effect Nov. 18. "There are some people who've convinced me to work with the administration and look for a compromise. That's what we're trying to do today."

The state ordered a "pause" on indoor dining until Wednesday, Dec. 9.

The meeting was billed as the “United Restaurant Owners' Informational Meeting.”

Kelly Allen, a liquor law attorney for Bloomfield Hills-based Adkison, Need, Allen, & Rentrop, PLLC, cited the potential loss of liquor licenses as reason enough to compromise with the state.

“The liquor control commission has a huge enforcement team and they're working overtime, and they don't want to be," she said. "If they see you're open, it may take a day or so, but your liquor license will be (suspended). It would be close to impossible for you to open."

On Wednesday, a group of doctors responded to Vicari’s initial call, calling it “reckless.”

The physicians offered empathy urging the federal government to support financial assistance for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, they urged people to obey the state restrictions.

“Data and evidence show that restaurants, bars, and cafes are places with the highest likelihood for COVID-19 transmissions, and as physicians, we urge these businesses to help reduce infections by following expert scientific advice so we can all do our part to help keep people safer,” they said.

The words were nearly echoed by Vicari, who said, "We're all in this together. We're going to do the best we can to go up to Lansing to make a difference. I'm telling fellow restaurateurs to not go against ordinance. It's going to cost more money than we want it to. It's not worth it."

A number of people on social media said they would boycott Andiamo for calling to defy the order.

Michigan Advance reports that Vicari and his various restaurant holdings have received between $1.8 million and $3.1 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.

However, the restaurateur said that he has not been able to serve at capacity for 265 days so far this year.

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