NEWBURYPORT — When Bar 25 owner Reza Rahmani announced shortly before Christmas he was closing his popular State Street restaurant due to skyrocketing COVID-19 infections across the state and country, he left its reopening date up in the air.
On Monday, the news landed that the eatery, known for its small plates and craft cocktails, would reopen a day later and was accepting reservations.
“We’re super excited to be open again,” Rahmani said Wednesday, adding that despite frigid weather and COVID-19 concerns, the restaurant had a decent reopening night Tuesday.
Rahmani opened his second location in the three-story former home of Ceia, located at 35 State St., last spring. The original Bar 25 is in Ayer.
The restaurant abruptly closed its doors Dec. 23 with only a Facebook post and a sign on the front door announcing the news.
“As of Dec. 23, Bar 25 Newburyport and Bar 25 Ayer have decided to temporarily close out of an abundance of caution due to the alarming rise in COVID cases,” a statement from the restaurant read. “Our number one priority is keeping our staff, and you as safe as possible and feel it’s too risky this close to the holiday season.”
But with the average number of national COVID-19 cases ballooning to more than 600,000 per day, the announcement that the restaurant was reopening may be classified as a surprise to some.
Rahmani said with no end in sight in terms of when COVID-19 cases may dip back to pre-omicron surge levels, the decision to reopen was made after speaking to all employees about the risks and the rewards.
“There is a business element as well,” Rahmani said.
Rahmani admitted that keeping the restaurant closed indefinitely could sink his business, saying the weeks since Dec. 23 exhausted much of his restaurant’s cash flow.
“It hurt a lot,” he said.
Patrons returning to the restaurant will see few changes from December, except for the mask mandate issued by the city last week. The restaurant, he said, follows all COVID-19 protocols and is “COVID cleaned” each day.
“Newburyport has been nothing but amazing to us,” Rahmani said.
Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.