After posting a notice on Instagram last week announcing Civico by the Park’s temporary closure, co-founder Dario Gallo is sharing more details behind he and brother Pietro’s decision to pause operations of their Bankers Hill restaurant. Facing serious staffing issues and the surge of the Omicron variant, their business was suffering. Reservations for Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners were being cancelled. Rather than jeopardize their reputation for hospitality, Gallo says they thought it best to take a break while they reevaluate.
Fortunate to have been given a reprieve on rent from their landlord, the duo is hoping the Covid situation will improve enough that they’ll feel comfortable restarting service, but allow that they could potentially be open to discussing some kind of partnership or even entertaining interested buyers. “We’re just here in limbo right now, seeing if we want to reopen when things get a little better or if we’re going to sell,” he told Eater.
It’s been a tumultuous ride for the Italian restaurant, which originally open as Il Dandy in 2019 with Michelin-starred chefs attached to an ambitious fine-dining menu. With all the pandemic-related unknowns that followed the March 2020 shutdown, the Gallos decided to switch directions, pivoting it into a version of their more casual Civico 1845 which is still doing near pre-Covid numbers in Little Italy. And dealing with industry-wide woes, from substantial understaffing to frustrated, impatient customers, has been all the more heightened because of the size of the space they’re trying to keep afloat: the Fifth Avenue restaurant rings in at a whopping 5,000-square-feet.
Although they’d like to reopen Civico by the Park next month, Gallo shared that they’re also trying to be rational about the situation in order to be able to continue to grow their restaurants, saying, “We’re still young, we have our whole careers ahead of us.”