Rochester chef wants to use large indoor atrium for indoor dining

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Like many in the restaurant industry, Max Rochester on Gibbs Street, shuttered for months, is hurting right now.

“We’re struggling,” said Tony Gullace, the venue’s owner. “We have employees that are struggling.”

Gullace, whose establishment is in the state-designated orange zone, which closed indoor dining, is wondering when he might be able to make use of the space again.

“It’s been very difficult because of the uncertainty surrounding it,” said Gullace.

A chef and restauranteur with several decades’ experience serving customers in Rochester, Gullace wants to use a vast indoor dining room to seat customers.

As of Monday, the state had not responded to a News 8 inquiry on this issue. To date, the state has not explicitly indicated when it would ease restrictions on restaurants.

In an effort to help local restaurants, the City of Rochester is helping provide up to 25 greenhouses as a temporary way to seating customers outdoors. Now, Gullace is wondering why an enclosed space outdoors is permittable, but a vast indoor space is not.

The governor himself has expressed wanting to reopen the economy, tweeting Monday, “We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.”

Following his 2021 State of the State address, the governor’s office released a statement saying  New York will seek to establish a rapid COVID-19 testing network to help businesses reopen with reduced capacity restrictions.

Officials say with this new network established for rapid testing locations, a customer can stop into a facility, get tested, and 15 minutes later be cleared for dinner or a movie.

The details as to if and when this planned will be rolled out were not specified in Monday’s announcement, but are expected to come this week as the governor continues his State of the State address.

For now, Gullace is waiting on a concrete answer on when that can happen.

“I do believe that we can open, and we can do it safely,” Gullace added.

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