Owner of Olazzo weighs ‘pluses and minuses’ in opening businesses

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Roberto Pietrobono owns five restaurants in Montgomery County, Maryland, so he has a lot of work ahead of him in deciding what will open up to dine-in customers and what will continue to offer delivery and carryout services only.

“It’s not exactly an easy question to answer,” said Pietrobono. “You have to kind of weigh your pluses and minuses for every business.”

Gringos & Mariachis carryout. Photo is courtesy of Gringos & Mariachis.

Pietrobono’s restaurants include Olazzo, Gringos & Mariachis and Alatri Bros.

Like so many others across the region, his businesses have slowed to a crawl during the coronavirus pandemic, and he is looking for the best and most efficient way to operate moving forward.

Pietrobono said a couple of his restaurants will likely not open up for dine-in customers over the summer, but he is more optimistic about places with large outdoor seating areas like his Gringos & Mariachis locations in Bethesda and Potomac.

According to Pietrobono, those restaurants have a “relatively good outdoor quality to them.”

Pietrobono said he is also working with local leaders in Bethesda, hoping to close off various streets to traffic so his restaurants and others can offer additional outdoor dining areas for customers.

He said, ideally, Bethesda would have a “food court”-style area where people could gather and eat after picking up their meals from restaurants.

In the meantime, Pietrobono’s employees are looking forward to getting back to business and seeing their customers face-to-face again.

“The employees that are working right now – I think everyone misses that social interaction,” he said.

At least for now, those interactions between staff and customers will not be as casual as they once were.

“Everyone is required to wear a mask, we’re taking temperatures every day and washing hands as frequently as possible,” said Pietrobono. “You just have to follow these guidelines and that’s the best we can do.”

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