As restaurants grapple with the impact of COVID-19, wading through forced closures and layoffs, owners are finding the best ways to move forward in a world of unknowns. Many Philadelphia restaurants are closed, at least for now, while others quickly pivoted to a focus on takeout and delivery, adjusting more than once as the city’s regulations on takeout shifted. Some, like Mike’s BBQ and Marc Vetri’s new Fiorella, closed initially to evaluate their options and are now setting up systems for getting prepared food to Philadelphians accustomed to having their pick of acclaimed eateries. (Order early at either of those spots — Mike’s BBQ was already known to sell out and during the first couple days of its new setup, Fiorella’s pounds of fresh pasta and pints of sauce were claimed in minutes.)
In Center City, several restaurants are boarded up. Bar owner Teddy Sourias was one of the first to cover the windows with plywood at his row of Chestnut Street venues, including U-Bahn, Bru Craft & Wurst, and Tradesman’s, where a row of outdoor stools is still visible.
Nearby, the windows at Time and Pizzeria Cappelli are also covered.
Other establishments, like Vedge, Good Dog, and, in South Philly, Artisan Boulanger Patissier, use signs to announce their closed status.
Staying open for takeout and delivery, HipCityVeg on Broad Street, Wishbone in Washington Square West, Kalaya in Bella Vista, and Grindcore House in Pennsport posted their rules or menus for passersby to see.
At the flagship Rittenhouse location of gourmet grocery store Di Bruno Bros., an employee opens the door so customers don’t have to touch the handle. A sign reminds shoppers to practice social distancing.
Outside Wendy’s, a customer calls in his order.
At Tria, a customer pays for her order at a table set up just outside the wine bar’s front door.
Philly Bagels sends employees outside to take orders so no one else enters the store.
Italian Market neighbors can still get their bagels — via curbside pickup or local delivery — at Gleaner’s Cafe.
At “Cheesesteak Vegas,” the picnic tables are blocked off with caution tape and the crowds are gone but a few visits showed a small, steady stream of customers coming for their cheesesteaks at both Pat’s and Geno’s.
Cristina Martinez’s brand-new restaurant, Casa Mexico, closed temporarily. But time it right and you might spot Martinez behind the counter at South Philly Barbacoa prepping takeout orders.
Nearby, century-old Italian bakery Isgro decorated for Easter before closing its doors — but as of Monday, March 30, the cannoli, cream puffs, cookies, and cakes are available for delivery through Mercato, Caviar, and Uber Eats, or call the bakery directly for curbside pickup.
On the East Passyunk Avenue restaurant strip, Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s side-by-side Laurel and ITV are covered up.
Down the street, Fond — along with the Dutch, from the same owners — set up a market with prepared meals, baked goods, beer, and wine. Customers call in their orders and pick the food up at Fond.
Triangle Tavern is selling its pizza, sandwiches, and wings to go. Vegan versions of several dishes are also on offer.
A few blocks south at D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats, customers can’t come inside but Chris D’Emilio positioned the menu of soft serve and sorbetto so it’s easy to see through the front window. Call or text in an order (or use delivery service Caviar) and he’ll bring it out on a tray, which he sets on the front step for a no-contract transaction and cleans with sanitizer wipes after.