Point Reyes’ Osteria Stellina, an ambitious farm-to-table restaurant that garnered national praise for its regional Italian cuisine will close at the end of August.
It’s a warning siren for what will likely be a tsunami of closures in the next three months as forgivable federal loans and savings dry up, employees seek other careers, customers remain wary and restauranteurs who’ve pivoted a hundred times say this new “normal” just isn’t sustainable.
Though there are glimmers of hope on the horizon — like the Restaurants Act, a $120 billion fund that could generate $24 billion for California, save 822,700 jobs for the state’s independent restaurants and bars, and assist the 55,350 small farms in California — it may be too little too late.
For Osteria Stellina’s owner Christian Caiazzo it was simply time to cut his losses. He explained his painful decision in a heartfelt letter saying that it was “a smart move” after muddling through years of ups and downs. Acknowledging that his restaurant “built on food politics” faced an uphill battle even in the best of times — buying expensive locally-sourced food, paying for employees’ health insurance and being located in a remote corner of Marin — he said he had zero regrets.
“As cruel as it is that Stellina will disappear, that we will retain absolutely nothing tangible to take away from this, that we will exist only in memory, I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” said Caiazzo.
So far, only a handful of local restaurants including Bistro 29 and Whole Pie have announced closures due to the pandemic.