A "For Lease" sign went up Monday afternoon around 2 p.m. on the building that houses Mamma 'Zu restaurant at 501 S. Pine St. in Oregon Hill.
The restaurant has been closed for service since the beginning of the COVID pandemic and the dining room closures that came with it; the restaurant is marked "temporarily closed online" and is not currently open for business. It's unclear if it will reopen and its future status as a functioning restaurant was unclear at press time.
Mamma 'Zu is, of course, the 27-year old Italian restaurant that Ed Vasaio opened in 1994 that nearly immediately became one of the most beloved and celebrated restaurants in Richmond's history. Among people who follow or support Richmond restaurants, Mamma 'Zu's status as among the best - if not actually the best - local restaurants was consistent for its entire two and a half decade run.
The restaurant industry was among the business sectors most affected financially by the pandemic. Nationally, the industry has lost $290 billion in sales since March 2020, according to July figures from the National Restaurant Association, and roughly 90,000 restaurants have closed for good. The Virginia chapter of the restaurant association estimates that 20% of Virginia restaurants closed during the pandemic and won’t reopen.
Mamma 'Zu's permanent closure has been rumored for months. Owner Vasaio could not immediately be reached for comment Monday; Vasaio's other local eatery, Edo's Squid, was open for takeout for most of the pandemic and reopened for dine-in service in June. Edo's Squid is currently open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.