As COVID-19 continues to spread across New York State, many restaurants are left with a harrowingly difficult decision: stay open and risk spreading or having staffers catch the virus, or close and risk not making ends meet. Last week, several Saratoga Springs staples, including Solevo Kitchen + Social, Druthers Brewing Company and Seneca decided to go with the latter. All three establishments temporarily closed their takeout services to spare their staff (and the public) from potential exposure to COVID-19, which, to date, has claimed more than 2,000 lives in New York alone.
“It wasn’t the best financial decision by any means, but it was 100 percent the right decision,” says Ronald Solevo, who co-owns Solevo Kitchen + Social with his sister Giovannina. On March 25, Solevo Kitchen announced that it would shut down its takeout menu and delivery, even though, according to Ronald, who’s also the executive chef, business had been quite heavy. “We did an incredible amount of takeout, and we really felt like we were doing good things,” says Solevo. “We were being there for the town with comforting and familiar food as well as continuing to provide a place where our staff could still earn money.”
However, after taking a much-needed day off, Solevo and his sister began to reconsider what they were doing. For them, the pursuit of money wasn’t worth potentially spreading the virus and endangering peoples’ life. “No matter how strict your sanitation protocols or how well coordinated your no-contact pickup is, the reality is that going to work in a restaurant is the opposite of self-isolation,” says Solevo. “Kitchens require close proximity work.”
Solevo wasn’t the only restaurant owner last week to come to that hard conclusion. Just a few days prior on March 21, Druthers, the Spa City’s hotspot for mac and cheese, pizza and house-brewed beers, announced on its social media feeds that it was shuttering its takeout kitchens out of concern for its employees.
Over the course of last week, several other popular area eateries followed suit, including Seneca, Esperanto, Wasabi and Uncommon Grounds, posting similar messages online that announced the end of their takeout menus while also thanking patrons and staff.
In spite of these closures, a good number of the Spa City’s restaurants and bars remain open for takeout meals and beverages—Whole Harvest, Flatbread Social, Taquero, Hamlet & Ghost and The Night Owl, to name a few. One thing remains certain, however: COVID-19 has made it challenging for restaurants to stay open even when there is plenty of business to be had.