At this point in time, we’re all acutely aware of how dire things have become. The effect of coronavirus on society is first and foremost a matter of public health and safety, and we should be isolating ourselves as much as we possibly can. That means no more dining in restaurants. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered all bars to close and restaurants to halt dine-in service as of last night and in New York, a similar mandate from Governor Andrew Cuomo goes into effect at 8 PM tonight. Other cities and states have done the same and will continue to follow.
The Reality of the Situation
The toll on the hospitality world is severe, and it will only get worse. Many restaurant workers live paycheck to paycheck. Lots of them have already been laid off. Some restaurants will not be able to re-open their doors once this is over.
In an email to guests of Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer put things into perspective:
Of course, we SO wish we could do business as usual, keeping all of our people working and offering the comfort of our cooking and hospitality to our guests. But it’s unequivocally necessary and responsible that we do our part to keep everyone safe. For those of us who find purpose and passion in bringing people together, we must confront the reality that togetherness may be a threat to the health and safety of our community at this time.
Here are two more of the industry’s brightest leaders on the state of affairs:
Bon Appétit is highlighting crushing stories from around the nation here.
Alex Stupak of Empellón penned a piece in Grub Street
Everyone has to be reasonable; everyone has to help. And the government needs to get involved, severely. Restaurants around the country, and the people who rely on them for their livelihoods, are going to need millions and millions and millions of dollars.
If the world needed the banks in 2008, it needs the restaurants this year — as soon as it’s safe to leave our homes again.
Order Delivery & Take-Out
While we don’t know how long this will last, there are some small measures that we as diners can take today to help aid the industry as it grapples with difficult decisions. We all have to eat, and while hopefully everyone is stocked up on groceries to feed themselves and their families, I encourage you to order delivery or take-out from your local spots for as long as you can. This is the current focus for restaurants hoping to weather this storm, who are appreciative of every drop of business they can get.
My best recommendation is to find (and follow!) your go-to spots on Instagram to hear directly from operators how you can best take advantage of what they’re offering. Some places are giving out numbers to call or text directly (while Grubhub/Seamless is deferring commission fees for impacted independent restaurants, other services like Caviar and Postmates have yet to do the same). Most if not all of these platforms are allowing for contact-free delivery to ensure the safety of guests.
Add some wine to your cart while you’re at it—or maybe you want a lineup of delicious beers, from Threes Brewing?
…and out west in Los Feliz, produce boxes from Kismet Rotisserie.
Yesterday was my birthday. I’m lucky enough to know Frank Castronovo of the Frankies Spuntino Group who hand-delivered an F&F pie. Later on, Saarim and I drove to Ops to pick up one of their margheritas, a square, and a salad. If any other late Pisces / early Aries babies are reading this, follow my lead and host yourself a personal pizza party with plenty of pies—extra slices freeze well. For lunch today we ordered from Yemen Cafe in Brooklyn Heights. They give extremely generous portions of flatbread.
It should also be noted that no one should worry about America running out of food; while grocery stores are struggling to re-stock quickly enough given the increased demand, the U.S. food supply chain remains unaffected and is ramping up.
Buy Gift Cards
I mentioned this idea on Friday, but I’ll re-plug it today. Buying gift cards for your later self or for friends and family is a good way to put money into restaurants’ pockets now. So far, I’ve purchased gift cards to Hart’s and Chez Ma Tante, two places that have provided me with countless amazing meals over the last few years. I look forward to purchasing more as this option continues to become available. You might also use this opportunity to surf your favorite restaurants’ websites for cool merch.
Donate to Organizations
Jordan Salcito, a leader in the wine world and founder of RAMONA, shared the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund, which will “immediately direct money to organizations leading on-the-ground efforts in the restaurant community, bolster [their] impact investing budget to provide zero-interest loans to businesses to maintain payroll during closure or re-open once this crisis has passed, and establish a relief fund for individual workers facing economic hardships or health crises as a direct result of COVID-19.” Donate here.
Kate Krader, the food editor at Bloomberg, wrote about other programs that are being set up to save the industry from devastation. Read up on them here.
And chef Dan Giusti, the founder of Brigaid—an organization that brings chefs into school cafeterias to elevate the nutritional quality of student meals—is directing folks to donate to their local school districts to help them feed children in need while schools are closed. (In New York City, 1 in 10 public school children are homeless and rely on the meals they’re served in school to be fed.)
That’s it for today. More to come as this madness plays out.
From my quarantine to yours — eat well and take care of each other.
P.S. If you read or watch anything great that you think SMC readers might like, please send it my way. :)