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At least 3 more Richmond restaurants - including Brio at Stony Point - have permanently closed; 94% of Va. restaurant owners have laid off workers

At least 3 more Richmond restaurants - including Brio at Stony Point - have permanently closed; 94% of Va. restaurant owners have laid off workers

Brio Tuscan Grille restaurant at Stony Point

Brio Tuscan Grille was an original and flagship tenant at Stony Point Fashion Park in South Richmond. Its parent company, FoodFirst, has filed for bankruptcy.

Brio Tuscan Grille, the full-service Italian restaurant chain, has permanently closed its location in the Stony Point Fashion Park.

The restaurant was one of the original and flagship tenants at the mall in South Richmond when it opened in September 2003.

“Brio’s parent company, FoodFirst, filed for bankruptcy, so the location here has closed,” said Vincent Mistretta, Stony Point’s general manager.

Mistretta said the mall doesn’t formally have control of the space yet so is unable to lease it.

FoodFirst Global Restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 10 and closed 71 of its 92 restaurants nationwide.

Many, including the Richmond location, were already closed. On March 23, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered Virginia restaurants to close their dining rooms and restrict their service to takeout or delivery in an effort to ensure social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Brio’s bankruptcy and closures were reported by industry publication Restaurant Business, which noted that the chain had been struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic

“The mandated dining room closure orders wiped out 60% of our restaurants within days and since then we have experienced nothing short of devastating sales declines,” FoodFirst CEO Steve Layt told Restaurant Business.

Brio isn’t the only restaurant in the Richmond region to close for good amid the pandemic.

The O’Charley’s restaurant in the Shops at Stratford Hills off Forest Hill Avenue closed for good this month, according to a sign on the door. Billy Jack’s Shack, which opened in December 2018 at 1409 E. Cary St. in Shockoe Slip, closed April 1, according to the chain’s website.

Onigiri, a short-lived Japanese restaurant at 2820 W. Cary St. in Carytown, announced its closure the same day Northam shuttered dining rooms. Citizen restaurant at 1203 E. Main St. in downtown Richmond closed March 18 after a deal to sell the restaurant fell apart.

These will not be the last restaurants to permanently shutter due to the impact of the virus, experts say.

The restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 and the social distancing that came with it.

Restaurants are expected to lose an estimated $50 billion in sales in April, according to data released Monday by the National Restaurant Association. That’s up from $30 billion the national industry lost in March.

Virginia restaurants should lose $1.3 billion in sales in April, the National Restaurant Association estimates, with virtually every restaurant owner it surveyed (99%) saying their total sales were down for the period of April 1-10. The average sales decline for Virginia restaurants for the period was 77%.

The rest of the numbers are equally stark.

The National Restaurant Association conducted a survey of 6,500 restaurant operators nationwide from April 10-16. The Virginia numbers mirror the national statistics:

  • 94% of Virginia restaurant owners have laid off or furloughed workers since mid-March, equaling 237,000 Virginia workers;
  • 21% of owners anticipate laying off or furloughing more workers in the next 30 days;
  • 72% say they stayed opened for takeout or delivery only;
  • 29% say they temporarily closed their restaurants; and
  • 3% of Virginia restaurant operators say they anticipate permanently closing within the next 30 days.

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Twitter: @KarriPeifer

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