Sunday, March 22, 2020

[UPDATE] COVID-19 Claims Local Restaurant Victim

It is with great sadness that we report that Saturday night was the last night for Napoleon's Grill and The Vista Room in Oak Grove.  Owner Sean Keenan announced the closure late Saturday on the restaurant's facebook page and in an email to customers.  Sean, along with his wife Nancy, are Northlake area residents and created Napoleon's to serve the neighborhood, which it has done for the past ten years.  Despite briefly adopting carry-out/drive-thru and delivery options earlier this week, the business could simply not survive. 

Together with sibling event venue The Vista Room, the two businesses and their nearly 9,000 square feet anchored Vista Grove Plaza, a neighborhood center along LaVista Road. Napoleon's opened in 2010 in a chunk of what was the short-lived Village Market grocery store.  The restaurant and its casual atmosphere and affordable prices proved quite popular with local families.  In 2016, The Vista Room, a small music venue, was opened to complement Napoleon's. 

Countless restaurateurs now find themselves in uncharted territory with uncertain futures.  Fifth Group Restaurants and True Food Kitchen have both temporarily shuttered all of their Atlanta area restaurants.  Others, like Big Sky Buckhead and sibling restaurant Buena Vida tapas & sol as well as Staplehouse, among others, have completely flipped their concepts to adapt to the current environment. 

In his note to customers, Keenan has, as he puts it, "a glimmer of hope" that things could change, and he could reopen, but he seems more subdued than optimistic. 

"We are saying goodbye for now as we can no longer afford to pay rent, payroll, debt payments and operating costs without business flowing in.  Social distancing and suspension of on-premise dining caused by Covid-19 has made it impossible for us to generate enough business to keep a properly operating establishment going."     

"We use the term good-bye for now as we are still holding on to a glimmer of hope that there maybe a bailout from the government and that our landlord will freeze rent payments until things can get back to normal.  Unfortunately, neither of these have been offered yet.  We are keeping some faith that this may happen but JIC, we wanted to thank you for 10 years of support!"

Vista Grove Plaza is owned by Atlanta-based Stafford, a real estate firm whose focus, according to their LinkedIn, "is to provide exceptional development and management services enriching the communities we serve." 

The ripple effects of restaurants in turmoil are no doubt affecting landlords, real estate firms and others, but to hear from Keenan that Stafford has not frozen rent payments or done something similar, is disappointing. 

ToNeTo Atlanta has this week been in communication with several real estate firms and brokers who told us that while it's definitely not easy, and they too have people/banks/investors and others to answer to, they are offering different forms of rent relief to hundreds of tenants, most of which are local restaurants and retailers, city-wide. 

During this time of "Social Distancing," and turmoil, we urge you to reflect on what you do have and what you appreciate, and in the words of FOCUS Brands President Kat Cole, "give until it hurts, and then give a little more."  

Ways to support local restaurants can be found here



Anonymous said...

There is a certain glee in the desire to boycott all restaurants and small businesses in town. Of course it is very righteous because it's for the 'greater good', or for 'the sake of hygiene' that will save countless lives (never mind the millions that are devastated by this). We must not question the efficacy of any of it. Such is what happens when fascism has arrived.

Anonymous said...

This pandemic will certainly put many businesses under but calling it quits after just a few days means this likely didn't have much to do with COVID19. There hasn't even been a rent payment due since the orders.

Landlords are going to be pretty lenient out of necessity regardless of any Federal bailout because it's not like there is a market for replacement tenants right now. And even if there were - those require brokerage commissions, TI allowances and other concessions that would cost landlords much more than a couple months of rent suspension.

Foodie said...

Ummm make to-go orders?? You can’t fix stupid. We need business owners like this out if the system. Thanks for your service but adios amigo!

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? Are you saying that promoting 'social distancing' is fascism? That careing about the 'greater good' is fascism? that voluntarily closing a restaurant is fascism? Explain please.

Anonymous said...

I doubt they could make a go of it on to go orders, Foodie. Napoleons was a neighborhood pub kind of place where people went to be with other people, drink and listen to live music. Emphasis on drink and the revenue that comes with it.The food wasn’t that good to be honest, and I don’t think many people would order enough take out from there to make it work. As Napoleon Bonaparte would say, au revoir Foodie.

Sean K said...

Wow - Did the people that made comments even read the article. Clearly scared little trolls since they had to go by Anonymous. I've owned restaurants for 25 years. I used to play nice with on-line commenters but that goes nowhere b/c they are friendless, insecure, heartless wimps that hide behind keyboards. They offer nothing to the world but negativity. So here you go...
No, you can't make money in Take-out and no restaurants can't withstand zero revenue with a $20,000 a month rent payment $55,000 a month in Payroll plus Aprox an additional 30,000 in fixed costs and debt payments and expect to survive. Classic armchair experts that don't have a clue about business.

As far as what people think about our food. Go ahead and read our reviews on Facebook, Trip Advisor, and Google.
Y'all are really some kind of special ripping on someone who got knocked down and is at risk of losing their life's work and put my kids at risk too due to pandemic and a landlord that was unwilling to give rent relief...not because of food or bad management, service product, etc.

BTW - The restaurant name has NOTHING to do with Napoleon Bonaparte smart ass!

Here's a link to our announcement:
Please read the comments

After I made my post, my landlord changed their tune and is now willing to work with us so we will still be here. Now go comment and rip on someone else's misery you sad excuses for humans.
And quit making judgments about things you know nothing about!

bill bratzki said...

That was a phenomenal response and completely spot on. There is zero chance the people who previously commented have owned a business or ever created a job for anyone. I hope you make it through this. I own a couple buildings in town and we are granting rent relief to practically everyone. It would be foolish not to because replacing them would be significantly more expensive in the long run. We won’t pay our mortgage until the tenants can start paying and our lender will be mad, but they will deal with it. I hope Stafford takes the same approach. I wish you all the best and will definitely try your restaurant when life gets back to normal.

Alex said...

Hi Sean, first day on the internet? LOL

Great, response regardless and I'm glad you're hopefully back in business. I agree, no way a pub can get by on only to go orders when, for most pubs, the money comes mostly from alcohol sales.

Anonymous said...

These are emotional times but let's take a deep breath here.
Every restaurant in the nation/world and every landlord are all in the same boat here. Any Landlord who throws out a tenant right now because they can't pay rent is foolish.

There will still be restaurants after this passes. If you choose to close your doors completely until the crises passes, do what you need to do. I just think it's a little early to declare total permanent closure since nobody really knows what's next or when the "next" will happen.

Best of luck to all the restaurants. I think when this crises passes, we will all be clamoring to eat out and support the restaurant industry.

Wmac said...

We are with you Sean...fight on....

vamsee said...

This is one of the nicest restaurant with great folks working there. Please don't post negative comments in these trying times. All the best Sean for the future!!

Anonymous said...

There is some possibility that restaurant shutdowns from covid19 will be covered by business interruption insurance. It’s not clear that this will be covered, but that question is starting to get tested in the courts. Of course, if you don’t have business interruption insurance, the question is moot. Just another thing to consider when a restaurant is deciding to stay the course or cut their losses.

Good luck to Napoleons and everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Very sad … blanket forced closures by officials with guaranteed pensions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Sean. I really appreciate when business owners stand up for themselves and call stuff out. Wish you the best of luck moving forward and hope to try your restaurant soon!

Anonymous said...

Sean, during this COVID-19 time, I hope your spine recovers. Yelling at keyboard warriors is never a good look, stick to fixing your business instead!

Unknown said...

Sean: I just want to thank you for all the good times at Nappy's with the Mike Veal Band and Cover to Cover. And so many unforgettable concerts at the Vista Room. You took a big chance with that venture and turned it into a well-respected and loved music destination. So many of us deeply appreciate the terrific community you have built.

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