BY THE VILLAGE SUN | There are obviously a lot of closed restaurants out there right now, and sadly many of them won’t ever be opening up again.
But in the case of one well-known group of Greenwich Village eateries, the closure has been only temporary, a detour around the depths of winter while indoor dining is banned.
The Pepe’s Restaurant Group, which includes a cluster of four Spanish-and Mexican-themed places on W. Fourth St. near Cornelia St., initially closed down for January and February. The family-owned operation includes its 50-year-old flagship, Tio Pepe restaurant, as well as Las Ramblas tapas bar, Burrito Loco and the Taco Shop.
Meanwhile, finally giving restaurateurs a slight reprieve, Governor Cuomo has O.K.’d the return of indoor dining at 25 percent, starting on Friday, two days before Valentine’s Day.
But Rocio Sanz, one of the Pepe Group’s owners and a longtime member of Community Board 2, said they won’t open with only 25 percent indoor dining, and will instead wait till March.
“Hopefully, the weather will be kinder in March and we will be able to heat up the outdoor dining space,” she said. “We want to spare our employees from having to work in such extreme cold weather, too.”
Passersby will currently find Tio Pepe boarded-up and padlocked, with its outdoor dining shed off-limits behind orange plastic fencing.
In early January, the Sanz family sent out a notice to customers about the culinary hiatus, noting that the cost of electricity to heat the outdoor structure was a factor:
Dear valued Customers, Friends and Family,
With heavy hearts, we have made the difficult decision to close for the months of January and February starting on January 4th. This is an extremely painful decision to make as we want to be here for our customers just as we have been for the past 50 years. This necessary hiatus, however, will give our employees a well deserved break during the coldest months of the year and our electrical bill a much needed respite. We look forward to seeing you again beginning March 2nd when we reopen, or before, if the indoor dining restrictions are lifted. We will keep you updated.
Thank you for your continued support and best wishes for the new year!
Jimmy Sanz, Family and Staff