Pubs and bars in Pigneto team up to survive

Restaurant owners in the urban neighborhood are trying to adapt to lockdown restrictions, with the fear that "otherwise you do not survive".   

Loved by the director Pasolini, Pigneto has undergone a remarkable evolution, transforming itself from a suburban neighborhood, into a cultural and artistic hub. The pedestrian area at the beginning of Via del Pigneto had become a focal point of Roman nightlife.  Now, with the closures imposed from 6pm the historical Pigento district sees many clubs "changing the menu”.

Also read: Covid-19: Rome shuts down nightlife areas before curfew 

Whoever sells sandwiches brings the beer from the nearby bar, who previously specialized in aperitifs, but now opens in the morning and serves dishes for lunch, while coffee comes from the bar next door.  Evidence of the resistance of Pigneto can be found in businesses that are flinging open their shutters at 10am, a formerly ungodly hour, and a sense of solidarity.

"Between us merchants we have established small collaborations”, says owner of the Opulentia street food store in Via Ascoli Piceno, according to Il Messagero.  “I bring beer from another store, as well as wine from the nearby wine store".  Strangely, the popular restaurant Mezzo was open for lunch yesterday. Usually, people are vying for tables from 6 pm and later for their aperitif.  "We are diversifying, we also offer something else" said a representative of the restaurant.  

Also read: Street art in Rome

They didn’t buy coffee machines, so the nearby bars bring cups of coffee, thus creating a circle of support among the shopkeepers of the area. "Before we opened at 5pm, now 2pm and on weekends from 11am”, explains owner of Birra +  “we collaborate with other bars, we also help each other to defeat this sense of alienation that there is in the neighborhood".  

The Pigneto area has woken up: the doors were opened from 5.30 am on the day in which the DPCM regulations of October 24th came into force.  Now the buzzwords are "reinvent themselves" and "help themselves”. 

The sad note

But there are those who are heartbroken when they see the tables of restaurants empty. Dario Santilli, 67 years old, and head of Rete Imprese Pigneto, a neighborhood improvement initiative, is discouraged: "Today I open to try to cover expenses, after twenty-five years of activity” - speaking of his restaurant Infernotto - “I find myself with empty tables, I had made orders for 500 euros and now how do I do it?  Take-away? It's a joke, the truth is that the closure at 6 pm is killing us, some colleagues continue to open but they earn 10 euros a day”.

Lunch brings in just a few couples to the famed restaurant Da Domenico. According to an interview with Il Messagero, owner Domenico Fofo says, ”With the evening closing we have a 70% drop in customers.   Home deliveries? We have never made them, there is a lot of competition, at lunch we save ourselves with some couples from the neighborhood that is clutching to the last of something he does not want to give up.” Empty tables also haunt Cargo, a place that overlooks the main pedestrian area. "The first people on Friday arrived at 4.30, I had 30 tables occupied, but at 6pm I had to ask customers to leave...".   

 Security issues

With businesses greatly effected, the new reputation Pigneto had gained is threatened.  Once considered unsafe, with problems as an under policed area filled with riff- raff, though never fully eradicated, had turned a corner.  Now the security problem in the neighborhood where the stores are closed is back. "At 6:00 p.m.”, concludes one pub owner “no one is on the street, we shopkeepers were kind of like a security guard".