The 14-year-old spot served a variety of familiar Mexican dishes like nachos, quesadillas, and empanadas in a cozy, sit-down setting with bar seating and comfortable booths. Owner Matt Tognazzini launched a GoFundMe for the restaurant at the start of the pandemic, writing in March that the $5,000 goal of the fundraiser would be divided up among the staff. As of publication time, $2,375 had been raised to that end. In May, the restaurant opened intermittently as a curbside bottle shop, but did not resume sales of food.
Via Facebook, Tognazzini said Wednesday that he decided against renewing Velvet Cantina’s lease, and that the spot would close for good. “Given the health risks to both staff and customers and the financial uncertainty of running a restaurant in the age of Coronavirus,” Tognazzini wrote, “it doesn’t make sense to continue operations.”
The announcement prompted an outpouring of grief from Velvet Cantina fans, many of whom commented that they’d been looking forward to a return of the spot’s organic fresh-fruit margaritas. “This one hurts,” wrote patron Monique Pelletier. “I have had so many amazing birthday, anniversary and Valentines Day celebrations here ... The food was always delicious and reliable, but what made it so special was the people..some of the best service in the city and nicest people to spend a couple hours with. I will hold this place in my heart with the chicken cilantro enchiladas and habanero shots.”