BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Roadhouse Grill announced its permanent closure on its Facebook page Wednesday night.
The Facebook post from the Town of Tonawanda restaurant said in part: "this decision was not made lightly but as a result of multiple shut downs and a drastic reduction of business we can no longer operate at a loss without any hope for the future."
Due to an increased COVID-19 positivity rate in the region in November, the Town of Tonawanda was designated as part of an Orange Zone in Erie County. Orange Zone restrictions, which meant restaurants could only offer outdoor dining and takeout, were put into place November 20 and have not been lifted.
Buffalo Roadhouse Grill opened in 2009 in the former Roadhouse Grill located at 1980 Niagara falls Boulevard.
You can view the Facebook post below.
“I would say casualties at this point are probably in the hundreds,” remarked Melissa Fleischut, president & CEO, New York State Restaurant Association.
The Buffalo Roadhouse closed despite receiving a federal PPP loan for $150,000.
But Fleischut said she does not believe the business would be required to pay back the loan.
"I don't think closing should impact their ability to get forgiveness for the loan,” Fleischut replied. “If they took the loan, and filled out all the proper paper work for forgiveness and used the funds properly, it should still get forgiven.”
Buffalo Roadhouse also received a $25,000 local Back to Business loan through Erie County.
The county issued this written statement when 7 Eyewitness News asked if the restaurant would be required to return the grant funding:
"The purpose of the Erie County Back to Business Program was to disburse funds to businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. If a business showed a COVID-19 related loss on their application, met the criteria to receive a grant, and were in business at the time of their application, they met eligibility requirements. Part of the program includes allowing businesses to use the funds for reimbursements to cover losses incurred between March 2020 and December 2020. If a business closes after receiving a grant, they will still be required to put the funds toward eligible expenses, which may include losses previously incurred during the eligibility time frame.
Erie County is committed to ensuring appropriate use of funds by all grantees, including Buffalo Roadhouse, pursuant to their signed grant agreement. While we hope that every business who received a 'Back to Business' grant will survive the COVID-19 recession, we know that sadly it will not be the case,” according to Erie County Deputy Press Secretary Daniel Meyer.
And yet another casualty of the pandemic, the Viking Diner on Grand Island is also closing down.
“As of now — we are shut down,” declared Chris Polizzi, owner.
Polizzi just opened last February right before the pandemic hit.
He's now in his second COVID Shutdown. Polizzi said he’s about four months behind in rent for the building he leases.
“I’m way behind in my rent — way behind in my rent,” Polizzi explained.
Polizzi says orange zone restrictions are tough.
“It’s literally just a two mile hike over the bridge into Niagara County and they can go to restaurants,” Polizzi replied.
“Restaurants are open over there, one of my co-workers here has a job over in Lewiston. It’s just not fair — it's really not fair,” responded Caitlyn Clingersmith, diner general manager.
Clingersmith says all 19 employees were let go.
“These girls left their jobs at Tim Hortons and here and there to come to me and serve these customers and have a fun work place. And now I’m just like okay where do we go from here — do I have a job or do I not,” Clingersmith said.
Polizzi said he did receive a $30,000 PPP loan from the first round of support for businesses.
“It helped — we were able to pay some bills and keep us going for a little while, but now I just don’t know,” Polizzi explained.
Fleischut said even with another round of PPP loans, it might be too late.
“We’re glad that Congress finally took action — but we’re just not sure if it’s too little too late,” Fleischut stated.
The state says it is constantly evaluating data and trends in hopes of reopening businesses as soon as the numbers support it.