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The 25% Era: Restaurants reopen in Palm Beach County

It’s no secret that the culinary industry has endured one roundhouse right after another since the outbreak of COVID-19. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 8 million restaurant employees have been furloughed or laid off; the industry, as a whole, lost some $80 billion in U.S. sales through April.

The national numbers are echoed in Palm Beach County by too many restaurateurs struggling to stay afloat. According to Jason Sobel, operations manager for Casa D’Angelo (171 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton; casa-d-angelo.com/boca-raton) and Angelo Elia Pizza, Bar & Tapas (16950 Jog Road, Delray Beach; angeloeliapizza.com), business is down between “70 and 90%” from last year’s sales.

“We’ve had to furlough 85% of our staff,” Sobel says, “which was heartbreaking, since a lot of them had been with us for years. We look forward to bringing them back on as soon as we can.”

For some staff, that means this week. Angelo Elia Pizza began welcoming customers indoors on Monday, the first day of Phase 1 reopening for Palm Beach County; Casa D’Angelo is holding off until Friday (May 15). The initial phase includes 25% occupancy for restaurants. But what else can diners expect?

Sobel says that his team is educating staff on all recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including the utilization of UV technology to sanitize and the addition of several hand sanitizers throughout the restaurants. Kitchen staff at Casa D’Angelo and Angelo Elia Pizza already have been wearing masks during takeout service.

“We will be installing the Aerobiotix system in all of our restaurants, which will help keep them as sanitary as possible for guests,” Sobel says. “Additionally, we will continue to sanitize all tables, chairs, surfaces, bathrooms, etc. multiple times per hour to ensure our guests are in the safest environment. We will have the CDC guidelines posted around the restaurant and ensure that gloves are worn and hands are washed (by staff) as often as possible.

“We’ll also be trying to use our reservation system to avoid having people wait in common spaces. Our outdoor seating will be a prime dining area, and we will utilize it as much as we can safely.”

At Farmer’s Table, the responsibly sourced, healthy food spot in Boca Raton (1901 N. Military Trail; dinefarmerstable.com), co-owner Joey Giannuzzi is targeting June 1 as a reopening date due to construction updates (the restaurant’s North Palm Beach location is open and following Phase 1 guidelines).

Giannuzzi says that his sales are down approximately 75% compared to last year—and that he’s had to let go 260 people between both restaurants.

The good news for Farmer’s Table aficionados is that both locations encompass some 20,000 square feet, meaning that seating capacity is greatly increased indoors and outside.

“We will be able to accommodate about 190 guests inside, outside and in our featured banquet space [The Oak Room] in Boca Raton,” Giannuzzi says. “Our strategy will be focused on keeping our guests comfortable dining with us—and our staff comfortable with coming into work. We will resume service with a ‘greatest hits’ all-day menu to start in both locations.”

Photo: Buffalo Cauliflower from Farmers Table; photo by Gyorgy Papp

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.