Andiamo owner urges Michigan restaurants to defy shutdown order, reopen

"We are stronger if we stand together and use our strength of fight back"
Andiamo owner urges restaurants to reopen
Photo credit Getty Images

(WWJ) A local restaurateur is urging fellow Michigan restaurant owners to defy the indoor dining shutdown order — if it is extended past the current expiration date.

By order of the state health department, all restaurants and bars in the state are closed for in-person service for a "three-week pause" to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In a letter, Andiamo CEO Joe Vicari asks Michigan restaurant owners to "band together and fight back," reopening all at once in defiance of the order if it's renewed past the Dec. 8 due date.

Vicari says in the letter the restaurant industry is being unfairly punished. “The malls are packed with holiday shopping, hair salons and gyms can remain open, yet our restaurants are closed," the letter states.

While restaurants can offer carryout and delivery, Vicari says that's not enough

He told WWJ's Jon Hewett the industry can't survive another extended closure.

"This this not political, it's not to be deceitful," Vicari said. "It really is just to try to keep the restaurants alive."

Vicari said he's awaiting a ruling, expected Tuesday, on a federal court challenge over the restrictions.

Read the complete letter below:

"Dear fellow restauranteurs:

As we are all aware, last Sunday, Gov. Whitmer issued a three-week “pause”. That “pause” is due to expire on Dec. 8. The Michigan Lodging and Restaurant Association will be in front of a Federal Judge on Nov. 30 in an effort to overturn the Health Department’s ruling.

If they are unsuccessful in doing this, we need to TAKE ACTION! As the leading restauranteurs in the state of Michigan, we need to band together and fight this closure. Our industry cannot survive another long-term closure. We are stronger if we stand together and use our strength of fight back.

The data from the MLRA shows that just over 4% of COVID cases can be traced back to restaurants, and yet, she decided to close restaurants, again. The malls are packed with holiday shopping, hair salons and gyms can remain open, yet our restaurants are closed.

If the MLRA is unsuccessful in overturning the decision, we anticipate the governor will make an announcement to extend her “pause” through the end of the year, on Sunday, Dec. 6. On Monday, Dec. 7, we will hold a collective press conference, with every local station and possibly national coverage, to announce that as a powerful, collective group, we will be reopening our restaurants on Dec. 9.

Our industry cannot survive another extended closure. Thousands of restaurants and tens of thousand of our employees cannot survive it either. We need to band together and FIGHT BACK, but we need to do this as a United Group of Michigan Restaurant Owners.

If you are interested in being part of the United Group of Michigan Restaurant Owners, please join us on Dec. 3 at 1:00 at Andiamo Banquet Center on 14 Mile and Van Dyke for an informational meeting.

Together, we can stand together to reopen our restaurants. For more information or to confirm your attendance on Dec. 3, please reach out to Rosalie Vicari at rovicari@vicarirestaurants or 586-770-1187.

Thank you, and we looked for to uniting on Dec. 3. We are only strong if we stand together!

Joe Vicari"

In federal court in Kalamazoo on Monday, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association argued that the Health Director violated state law, including the interstate commerce clause.

Previously, a judge denied bars and restaurants a restraining order on the three-week ban, hinting that the health department has more authority in times of a pandemic.

This comes as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state are surging to the highest levels yet, and health systems in the state are at or near capacity.