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Forno closes in Blackstone; owner says coronavirus outbreak was a factor

Forno closes in Blackstone; owner says coronavirus outbreak was a factor

Forno, a pizza, charcuterie and small-plate restaurant in the Blackstone District, has closed for good.

Owner Nick Strawhecker said he offered takeout at the restaurant when the coronavirus closed restaurant dining rooms, but it didn’t catch on. After a few weeks, he closed the restaurant for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.

It didn’t make sense for it to reopen when Gov. Pete Ricketts said restaurants could begin operating at 50% capacity in May, he said. The restaurant holds only 50 diners total, and with social distancing factored in, it could accommodate only 20. So he closed it permanently.

“Economically, it didn’t work at all,” said Strawhecker, who also owns Dante in the Shops of Legacy at 168th Street and West Center Road.

Forno opened last summer to replace a smaller version of Dante in Blackstone. The menu focused on tigelle, fresh-made bread disks that were the centerpiece of meat and cheese platters. It also served sides such as a whole roasted cauliflower with fontina cheese sauce and pasta with “Sunday gravy,” an Italian favorite.

Strawhecker, a widely known Omaha chef, said he will offer some of the Forno favorites at Dante. Tigelle already has shown up on the Dante menu.

In contrast to Forno, Dante has built a strong following over its 10 years in west Omaha, Strawhecker said, adding that takeout has been particularly popular there during the pandemic.

Closing Forno was a hard decision, he said.

“I think it was a great restaurant.”

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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