'Knockout punch': Rockfish, White Rose close doors until COVID-19 rules relax
The White Rose Restaurant Group made the decision Tuesday to temporarily close its restaurants, catering and event service operations because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Jeremiah Anderson, the chief operating officer of the family-owned group that oversees the White Rose Bar & Grill, Rockfish Public House and Valencia Ballroom in York City and the White Rose at Bridgewater in York Township, said Wednesday he is uncertain when the businesses may reopen.
“That’s the crazy part,” he said. “We don’t know how long it’s going to be. If we did have some sort of indication, like say it’s going to be October or November until these regulations ease up, then we could prepare ourselves and be able to grind it out until then."
The closures come after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced new statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants and larger indoor gatherings in response to the rise in new COVID-19 cases.
“There’s nothing definite in sight, there’s nothing down the road, indicating to us that it’s going to change dramatically," Anderson said. "We’re really playing it day-by-day and just playing it by ear, based on what the governor decides.”
The new orders reduced indoor dining capacity at restaurants to 25%, limited on-premises alcohol consumption to meals only and limited indoor gatherings to 25 people.
“It’s a shame for everybody,” Anderson said. "There’s no winner. For us, this was the best decision we could come up with to preserve our business's resources in order to reopen again once things do finally ease up."
Anderson intends to eventually reopen all the locations, he said.
He said he had 312 employees, mostly part-timers, when Wolf originally shut down dine-in facilities at bars and restaurants statewide in mid-March to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Anderson said approximately 60 employees were affected by Tuesday’s decision.
“Restaurants that mainly are casual dining and fine-dining, probably, in my opinion, got the brunt of this,” Anderson said. “We just really just hope the best for everyone, and hopefully they are in a position where they can ride this out and open back up.
“With the regulations that’s been put out there for restaurants, it’s basically a knockout punch.”
Anderson ‘s restaurants benefited from loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, with White Rose Bar & Grill getting $350,000 to $1 million to retain 90 jobs; Rockfish Public House (Gunsco LLC) $150,000 to $350,000 to retain 42 jobs; and White Rose at Bridgewater (Siderwaysco, LLC) $150,000 to $350,000 and 60 jobs retained. Valencia Ballroom did not qualify for a PPP loan, Anderson said.
Anderson said the group will continue to offer drop-off catering at White Rose Bar & Grill during the closure.
“We’ll do catered events, prepackaged lunches, whatever we can do just to be doing something,” said Anderson, who has been in the restaurant business for nearly 30 years. “I never ever thought I would be closing a business due to any other fault but my own. I don’t really think how the state has handled this business-wise has been really optimal. But it doesn’t do any good to keep losing money.”
— Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.