Andiamo group leads charge to urge restaurant owners to defy ban on indoor dining

As Michigan restaurant leaders are urging a federal judge to strike down Michigan's three-week pause on indoor dining amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the owners of Andiamo and other restaurants in Metro Detroit are urging fellow establishments to defy the orders.

Joe Vicari owns the Andiamo chain and Joe Muer Seafood restaurants in Southeast Michigan. He and his wife, Rosalie Vicari, are concerned the writing is on the wall.

"If they continue this they’re going to put us out of business," Joe said. "We have laid off 700 employees we’ve kept about 80."

The Vicari Group owns 22 restaurants including the Andiamo locations. They're using their powerful voices to issue a bold letter to other restauranteurs by encouraging them to reopen even if the Governor bans indoor dining past December 8th. 

In an open letter, the Vicaris said while they don't plan to open on the ninth, they want to discuss all options.

"Is opening the best thing we can do or do we follow some other protocol? Is there some other way we go about doing this?" Rosalie said.

They’re putting stock in a lawsuit filed in federal court by the Michigan Lodging and Restaurant Association that's challenging the constitutionality of the health department banning indoor dining. 

The same judge presiding on this case in court Monday ruled against the group’s motion to reopen indoor dining last week. 

"We don’t want anybody to get sick in our restaurants. We were closely following protocol even beyond what the governor had wanted us to do," Rosalie said.

The Vicaris say 2,000 restaurants have already shut their doors for good and as many as 6,000 others are in limbo. 

"To shut it down it’s really going to put a nail in the coffin to many restaurants," Joe said.

FOX 2 sources said the judge is expected to make a decision in the case on Tuesday.