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With Fans Barred From the U.S. Open, One Gets as Close as He Can

When Berrettini was asked in an interview after an early victory where he would celebrate, he revealed that he was headed to Via Della Pace, as many of the Italian players did. That was before a fire shut down the restaurant in February.

“It was the Italian players’ lounge,” said Corrado Tschabuschnig, the manager for Berrettini and several other players.

Within hours of Berrettini’s on-court comment last year, Bartocci received a call from his business partner, Marco Ventura, who reported that a crowd was gathering at the restaurant, some with oversize tennis balls hoping to get an autograph from Berrettini and the other Italian players. And because of all of the publicity, which mushroomed as Berrettini advanced through the draw, the restaurant more than doubled its business in the ensuing months.

But on the afternoon of Feb. 10, Bartocci was at the New York Open in Long Island, a guest of the Italian player Paolo Lorenzi, when he received another urgent call from Ventura: A fire had broken out in the building that housed the restaurant. It was bad.

Bartocci hopped on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and rushed through the rain to Manhattan. When he got there, the block was swarmed by firefighters, trucks and hoses. The fire had started behind a wall, Bartocci said, and although there were no flames inside the restaurant, the firefighters had to rip through the kitchen to find the source. Everything in it was destroyed, and the restaurant was forced to close, at least in that location.

Bartocci said that by the time the investigation was completed and claims were filed, the pandemic had been declared. He said the insurance company told him that because of the pandemic he would have had to close anyway, and its payout was not enough to reopen the restaurant.

What’s more, Bartocci has an E2 visa for investors, which would have renewed automatically as long as the business was open. But now it is set to expire in October, and he may have to leave the United States.

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