PROVIDENCE, RI — The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another Rhode Island restaurant. Birch in Providence will serve its last meal in October, the restaurant’s owner announced Tuesday.
“Ten years was always this unofficial timeline I had in my mind for Birch,” the owner wrote in To say this small, 18-seat restaurant didn’t exceed my own lofty expectations just because it didn’t hit that milestone would be selling it all incredibly short.”
As with so many other recent business closures, the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible for the restaurant to continue to operate. The decision was made to close in October because rapidly cooling weather will prevent outdoor dining, leaving the owner with few choices.
“Eating indoors is a scary, last-resort situation,” the statement continued. “The combination of COVID-19 and HVAC is like introducing malaria to the mosquito. This is my choice and I don’t fault anyone else during these times who must continue to choose.”
Outdoor dining has been the preferred setup since restaurants were first allowed to reopen, since open-air seating allows for more air exchange. Because eating necessitates removing one’s mask, it’s difficult to keep respiratory droplets at bay, allowing them to enter the air unimpeded when a diner speaks, breathes, sneezes, coughs or laughs. In addition, air conditioning systems circulate the air, potentially carrying droplets elsewhere in a restaurant, even if diners are appropriately spaced apart.
Birch will stay open until Oct. 19, marking seven and a half years of operation.
“Thanks for having us, PVD,” the statement concluded.