CLEVELAND, Ohio – Lola Bistro, the iconic Michael Symons fine dining restaurant in downtown Cleveland, has closed for good due to financial stress from the coronavirus pandemic.
Symons business partner Doug Petkovic confirmed the news in a phone interview with cleveland.com. Petkovic said some Lola employees tested positive for COVID-19 this week, but the decision to close came earlier than that.
We did not close the restaurant permanently because of [the COVID-19 cases]. We closed because the pandemic made the situation untenable for the business we were doing, Petkovic said. When you make 30% of the sales you normally make, you lose money very quickly.
Petkovic said he, Symon and Liz Symon had all considered this coming weekend to be last weekend’s restaurants in business, but decided to close on Wednesday to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to other employees.
The news comes with further shutdowns for the Symon and Petkovics companies – two out of three B-Spot sites have also closed permanently.
Petkovic said Lolas’ shutdown was intended to be permanent unless there was an unexpected update that would allow him to reopen.
There are forces that are trying to find ways to keep us open. Our owner works hard to work with us, said Petkovic. Is it permanent? I don’t know, but they were closed.
When the pandemic closed restaurants in Ohio, Lola remained closed until June 25, when it reopened with limited hours, along with other Symons restaurants in downtown Cleveland and North. east of Ohio, such as the Mabels BBQ and B-Spot Burgers locations.
Lola is Symons’ flagship restaurant; it opened in 1997 in Tremont and then moved to the Clevelands East 4th Street neighborhood in 2005. Lola Bistros’ menu of inventive meat specialties made the restaurant and its chef a star in the kitchen, winning fans for signature dishes like beef cheek pierogi and pork belly.
Lola Bistro has regularly landed on the best restaurant lists in Cleveland, and also around the world during its 23 year history. The restaurant and its sister restaurant Lolita (which closed due to a fire in 2016) have earned Symon significant fame and celebrity status. The chef has become a regular on Food Network specials, including a co-host concert on The Melting Pot and a win on the Iron Chef America – as well as many other animated and guest appearances on the network. .
In 2009, Symon won the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Great Lakes category.
While the shutdown is heartbreaking, Petkovic said the hardest part is knowing restaurant staff will need to find new jobs.
We just closed a restaurant in the event of a pandemic, where restaurant traffic is down 50-70%. Where are these people supposed to go to find work? That’s who I feel bad about – our staff. Where will they find jobs in this pandemic? Said Petkovic. Restaurants are brick and mortar, beer, wine, food, tables, chairs – but the heart and soul of any restaurant is our team, the people who work with us. Lolas was phenomenal, and there’s a reason: it’s them.
Related coverage: B Spot Burgers has permanently closed two establishments
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