Iowa Restaurant Association predicts 1,000 restaurants to close by March due to pandemic

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 6:33 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Restaurant Association says it’s projecting around 1,000 restaurants to close permanently in the state by March 1st, that’s 18% of the market. Since the pandemic started a couple hundred have already closed their doors.

Bari Italian in Cedar Rapids is just getting started. They opened their doors last November and tell us this first year in business has been anything but ordinary.

“Being open 4.5 months, closed 4, open 2, or open 3 actually and then you throw a derecho in there and closed for two weeks and then reopen from that. So it’s been exhausting,” says Ryan Manka, Manager at Bari Italian.

The restaurant employs 25 people and they’ve been taking all the measures they can to try and make customers feel comfortable coming inside.

“When we hit August things took off, I mean up until honestly 2.5 weeks ago we were doing really really well and not to say we not doing well now but it’s a lot slower. You don’t have those people out because they’re scared of the numbers,” Manka told us.

Down the street well-known Popoli announced it will be closing for good on December 20th. Meanwhile downtown White Star Ale House announced it too will be closing soon, they plan to keep just their bar open for the next couple of weeks before shutting down entirely. It’s unsettling for a new restaurant like Bari to see.

“It scares everybody. It scares me as a manager, it scares our chef, it scares our owners. To have two restaurants that have been around 7, 8 years to close up shop like that it’s scary,” says Manka.

“Unfortunately I don’t think it’s the last two you’re going to see. You’re going to see other ones and hopefully we can weather it, that’s what we’re really shooting to do,” he added.

They’re focusing on keeping the inside experience as safe as possible so people feel comfortable eating indoors since the patio dining isn’t an option anymore due to cold weather settling in.

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