Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, has served families in the area for nearly 40 years, but because of the pandemic and the rent being raised, the owners say they have to close their doors for good Sunday.
Bob Moor, a regular customer at the restaurant who came from Fort Washington to enjoy its food for the last time, said it was his “home away from home.” Wade Craig, another regular customer, came from a bit farther.
"I drove up from Charlottesville today for one last meal,” Craig said. “Took time off from work and all that sort of stuff."
The unassuming storefront has been known to serve some of the best food in town. The rush of customers has been nonstop for a week leading up to its closure, and the door to the restaurant hasn’t been closed long enough to keep the heat in. On Sunday, that door closes for good.
"It's sad to see a place that's been in business for almost 40 years become a casualty of COVID,” Craig said.
Owners Jim and Bill Patrianakos say it wasn't just the pandemic but that the owners of the Bradlee Shopping Center are raising their rent — and they can’t survive both.
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News4 reached out to the shopping center but hasn’t received a response.
"I just don't understand why you would raise the rents and drive a small family business like this out of business,” said customer Dan Green.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said the city has provided millions of dollars to help keep businesses afloat, but the money's run out and, for some, it’s caused permanent damage.
“The two levels of government, state and local, that have to balance their budget every single year, cannot solve this problem,” Wilson said. “We cannot balance our budget as required and solve all the economic dislocation in our city because of COVID. There's only one level of government that can do that and that's the federal government.”
President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill includes $350 billion for state and local governments to help businesses. Unfortunately, it won't arrive quickly enough to save the restaurant cherished by many.
“They've watched our kids grow up, they've cried when we've lost loved ones, they've celebrated graduations,” said Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.