Iconic Savoy temporarily closes

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With a 114-year-history of serving Italian food, drinks, desserts and entertainment to the residents of Rome and beyond, The Savoy Restaurant, 255 E. Dominick St., is temporarily closing its doors.

In a social media announcement posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, The Savoy was open Thursday from 4-8:30 p.m. Following business Thursday, the restaurant would take a “Time Out” until further notice, according to the announcement.

Part-owner Orrie Destito said Thursday that “villain COVID” is the culprit for the temporary closure of The Savoy, but that the family remains positive that they will re-open the restaurant once they are able to offer the “dining experience that customers deserve.”

Destito blamed inconsistencies in staff, rising prices in meats and groceries, and other factors that are a direct result of the pandemic — similar hardships faced by many local businesses, not just restaurants.

The Savoy “is a full-service restaurant and we can’t be that right now because we’re in a position where we have staff calling in every other day,” Destito said. “It’s not the staff’s fault, it’s the fault of the virus, but if you look at that and how every week it’s sporadic — you don’t know if you’ll be doing full-service one night or just take-out — the climate for the customer is just not good.”

The co-owner said he gives credit to the local restaurants that are pushing hard to stick it out during the virus, and encourages residents to support local business. But Destito said rising costs in food and supplies would force the family to pass the increased costs onto the customers, something they simply refuse to do.

“Not giving customers a full valued experience just does not make sense to us,” Destito said. “There’s other factors here too — the rising food prices are unprecedented. Most meat prices are up over 20% and grocery prices in general are up. There are several ways of dealing with this, but it is not in our belief of passing this on to the customer.”

“You can’t jack up your prices to compensate for all these inconveniences,” Orrie added.

Last year, The Savoy and other area restaurants may have had a better ability to “tough it out” because there was some government funding available to support the ever-changing climate, Destito said. That support system is no longer there.

“I get that government can’t bail you out of everything, but I definitely think it’s best to wait until you can get to a spot where you can operate normally, if there’s such a place,” he said. “Last year we had the government say we could be open, but only at 25% seating or then 50% seating, and you need plastic barriers and this and that — but even with government help, restaurants were still losing money. This year, I thought instead of struggling with this every day and causing confusion for the consumer, let’s hunker down until the clouds disappear.”

The Destito family plans to make an official announcement once The Savoy re-opens.

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