North End restaurant owner: ‘I’ll take coronavirus over losing my business’

BOSTON — The state of Massachusetts did not include dine-in services in phase one of its reopening plan.

Restaurants in Massachusetts won’t be allowed to bring customers back into dining rooms until phase two, and as of now, an exact date has not been decided. The announcement from Governor Charlie Baker led to outrage among restaurant owners across the Bay State.

More than two dozen North End business owners stood united in protest on Monday afternoon. Many made it a point to challenge mask wearing and social distancing guidelines.

“I haven’t social distanced in three months… I take my chances with God,” said Frank Mendoza, owner of Monica’s Trattoria on Prince Street. “If I have to give up my business that I worked 25 years for, sacrificed my life for, for coronavirus… I’ll take coronavirus over losing my business!”

The North End restaurant owners who vocalized their immense frustration with the state’s cautious approach told Boston 25 News they can’t continue to survive solely on takeout and delivery services.

“I want my restaurant opened up to 100 percent capacity,” said Frank Mendoza. “If they tell me I can only open at 25% occupancy, I will close.”

Moving to phase two depends on health data trends. The earliest restaurants in Massachusetts can hope to reopen their dining rooms is June 8th.

“All of us are hurting terribly. They’re prolonging it,” said Claudia Spagnuolo, owner of La Famiglia Spagnuolo. “I think it’s time now to break out. Let the people come back, and let us make our living.”

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association released the following statement:

“Obviously, every restaurateur is disappointed with the lack of a defined re-opening date in today’s announcement. Massachusetts restaurants need their suppliers to have time to restock perishable inventory before it can be delivered to them, they need to notify employees about returning to work and conduct other due diligence.”

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