Although it might not look the same as it did three months ago, the Marietta Square Market is formally opening back up Friday after several weeks of closures due to the coronavirus.
Some of the businesses — such as PONKO Chicken, Grand Champion BBQ and others — have been open for carryout/takeout during periods of the pandemic. Fifteen of the merchants who have held spaces in the food hall-style market just off the Marietta Square will be officially open Friday. Those who wish to dine there will have social distancing-approved options on the outdoor patio spaces.
Two establishments that will not serve serve Market patrons again are Street Taco and Merica Clothing Co. Market spokeswoman Laura Coronavo of MVO Marketing, the new PR/Marketing firm for the market, said Wednesday: “Street Taco and ‘Merica Clothing Co. have closed their Marietta Square Market locations and will not be re-opening. As far as Bread and Butter and Shai Karr, we still do not have re-opening details. Glory Haus is expecting to open by this weekend.”
Those who will be formally open for at least takeout include: Bullgogi, Cousins Maine Lobster, Crème de la Crepe, D’Cuban Café, Forno Verno Pizza & Bar, Four Fat Cows Ice Cream, Grand Champion BBQ, Just Loaf’n Cajun Café, Lucky’s Burger and Brew, Momoiro Ramen, Pita Mediterranean Street Food, PONKO Chicken, Tandoori Square and Tiny Bubbles Tea Bar.
For now, the businesses will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Alexis Kinshire-Kinsey, who owns Fork U Concepts and its Cobb and Marietta Square restaurants such as Taqueria Tsunami and Stockyard Burgers & Bones, also owns the anchor of the market, Forno Verno Pizza & Bar. Forno sits in the middle of the food hall with a large bar. Forno is now the only restaurant in the market to serve alcohol, after the permanent closing of Street Taco.
Kinsey said Forno opened a few weeks ago for takeout and curbside, as well as make-your-own-pizza take-home kits and growlers. But though the restaurant is opening for more options, she said their business model will still change for the foreseeable future.
“To-go and curbside orders will be a big percentage of our business for a long time,” Kinsey predicted. “No one knows what will happen — will there be a relapse? Will everyone ever feel OK with dining in? And when will they? We are arming ourselves to be prepared with a focus on people still not feeling 100 percent comfortable with coming out to dine, and others who are comfortable and want that experience, too.”
Kinsey said she and her team were supposed to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Forno in late March, but the virus put those plans on hold.
“It was doing good and moving in the right direction, before all of this,” she said. “The busy time for a restaurant is right now. We were supposed to be at our peak, so it’s unfortunate timing. The weather is now beautiful, people want to enjoy being out and having a cocktail and being with friends.”
Kinsey has been in the restaurant business for over two decades now, working through the 2008 recession, but said she has never seen the restaurant business hit as hard as it has been in the past few months. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. “Even in 2008, it didn’t hit as hard and as fast as this has. It’s amazing to see everything closing so quickly, and seeing how many other businesses have been hit by restaurants closing, like the farmers and not being able to get cold cuts of meat and having to alter menus to adjust for availability. Even if things continue to go in the right direction and things keep opening back up, it’s still going to be very hard on the industry.”