Pandemic Restrictions Cause a Rash of Closures in Atlanta Restaurant Scene


Over 25 area restaurants closed their doors for good – several that have been in business for decades – due to the impact of Health Department stay-at-home orders and restrictions on business operations that began in March 2020 with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few days after Thanksgiving, Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order further restricting restaurant operations. The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) published a statement shortly after.

The GRA were urging “the safety, health and well-being of Georgia’s restaurant owners, workers and guests.”

They continued:

We ask that restaurants and diners follow the rules set by the Office of the Governor. During this transitional period we are all in, Georgia’s restaurants request respect, patience and understanding with regards to the pace of reopening. Some may be ready to welcome diners back, while many will need additional time to confirm their individual supply chain, initiate new operational standards, and ensure the safety of their staff and guests.

There were several Atlanta restaurants that had to permanently close due to the severity of COVID-19 restrictions. The Foodie Magazine Atlanta Eater is keeping a list of businesses that are closing their doors. Just in the month of December, three businesses forced to close permanently include Foundation Social Eatery, Kouzina Christos, and Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen.

In their farewell note to fans, Ah-Ma’s captured the basic economics of the shutdown for these small businesses.

“With our [lease] being up and the overall uncertainty of the times, we have decided not to renew our lease, and our final day of service will be December 21,” the eatery wrote on Instagram.

According to Yelp’s Local Economic Impact Report, closures continue to increase nationally, climbing to 97,966 permanent closures.

There are two categories that businesses fall into with COVID-19 restrictions. These categories determine which guidelines to follow and are described as either “critical infrastructure” or not. A critical infrastructure includes businesses that deal with chemical, energy, financial, communications healthcare and more.

The “Georgia Made” website published guidelines for businesses outside the “critical infrastructure” designation. Those rules include providing hand sanitizing stations, the proper use of face coverings, and disinfecting common surface areas.

The Atlanta City Council recently passed new rules governing restaurants to allow outdoor dining and “provide safe, social distant outdoor dining spaces.”

The National Restaurant Association summarized, “Street seating must be located in front of or adjacent to a restaurant and cannot exceed more than 50 percent of the total seating capacity for the establishment. Restaurants will have to submit an application to the Atlanta Department of Transportation for approval.”

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Tiffany Morgan is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]




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