Midtown restaurant converts to market amid virus closures

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A midtown restaurant is completely rethinking its operation as the restaurant industry comes to a near halt.

Aioli Bodega Espanola is normally a dine-in restaurant, featuring fine wines and European-inspired dishes.

“I just reacted in real time to everything. (After) the governor’s address on Sunday, I closed my bar on Monday,” restaurateur Aziz Bellarbi-Salah said. “CDPH came out with guidelines Monday night, I closed my restaurants Tuesday morning.”

With those closures, Bellarbi-Salah had to furlough nearly 40 employees until further notice.

“We didn’t want anything to go to waste. We wanted to have a central commissary location,” he said. “I wanted my employees to be able to eat.”

The employee commissary sparked an idea to turn his restaurant into a community market and sell the rest of his food supply.

Bellarbi-Salah is also offering about 10 made-to-order items off his menu and a variety of deli sandwiches for takeout.

“All the things that we would normally be cooking and preparing, we will cook and prepare or send it with you home so that you can do it at home,” he told FOX40.

But he isn’t just stocking food on his shelves.

“Pretty much the only reason I’ve gone to the store has been to try and score toilet paper,” Bellarbi-Salah told FOX40.

He’s limiting two rolls per customer and selling other paper goods as well.

And Aioli is also carrying products from other local businesses.

“They’re going through tough times too, so any way I can get the right dollar to the right place and the right product into the right hands, I’m going to make that happen,” Bellarbi-Salah said. “Aioli has been part of the Sacramento community for 25 years and I want to make sure Aioli is part of the community for another 25.”

The market at Aioli is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and offers a 33% discount to all bar and restaurant industry personnel.

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