Why New York’s restaurant scene is guaranteed to bounce back
It doesn’t matter whether the closure ends by Easter 2020 or Easter 2021. Once the plague is over, New York City will have as many places to eat as before, and as many seats, patrons, chefs, staff. kitchens and employees who were, in the blink of an eye, deprived of their livelihood three weeks ago.
It is not a magical thought.
Of course, it may not be the even Restaurants. The pandemic could, until nature sheaths its sword, pull the table from under the culinary world we know and love and scatter it to the winds. Super chef Tom Colicchio has said the crisis could shut down 75% of New York City restaurants for good. Dirt Candy chef / owner Amanda Cohen wrote in The New York Times: “After this closure, we will have to rebuild the city’s restaurant business from the ground up.
The current devastation includes the loss of 320,000 restaurant jobs and the untold toll on food owners, owners and suppliers. However, for the context, remember that before the coronavirus, there was September 11 and nearly 3,000 deaths in one day; the AIDS-related deaths of 58,000 New Yorkers from 1980 to 1985; the exodus of 1.5 million inhabitants in the 1970s and 1980s; and the Great Depression which saw some of my less fortunate 1920s ancestors, true to legend, selling apples on the sidewalks to stay alive.
By the time the virus is contained, pent-up demand for the basic urge to eat and socialize, and for the human impulse to provide the experience, may well lead to the biggest restaurant building boom the Big Apple has ever seen. known. Tastes and trends may change, but the city’s irrepressible entrepreneurial energy and people’s sheer joy in feeding others guarantees a resurgence.
New York is providentially blessed with the spirit to make it happen. We bring tastes and culinary skills from all corners of the earth. We love to eat. We love to make money – which many, many restaurants are still doing despite the pressure many faced even before the virus.
The scourge will leave many more storefronts vacant – fertile ground for restaurateurs when owners desperately need rental income from the North Bronx to the Coney Island Boardwalk. But the gossip that the best chefs will flee the city makes no sense: where would they go when other cities are also closed?
It is not indifferent, in a time of death and widespread suffering, to take root for a renewal of the restaurant. Of course, cooks, waiters and dishwashers miss their paychecks more than ‘destination’ favorites Marea, Porter House and Olmsted – and the teacup-sized sushi restaurant in Astoria. whose name I never remember.
But eating and drinking with friends, lovers and strangers is not optional. It’s in the city’s DNA. The pleasure we take in our 26,000 restaurants is one with our need for all kinds of human-to-human experiences, from team sports to sex. It cannot be replicated by takeout and delivery. The men and women I saw snacking together at roadside stalls in Tanzania, Martinique and the Golan Heights shared the same fun and social empowerment as the hedge funds at the tablecloth temples in through Manhattan.
Things look grim right now. Landlords get together with lawyers and accountants to figure out how long they can pay the rent before they go bankrupt. Foodservice gods such as Danny Meyer, Eric Ripert and Andrew Carmellini are making superhuman efforts to help laid-off employees and begging the government to save small restaurants. It’s unclear how much of the $ 350 million in the $ 2,000 billion coronavirus relief bill in support of small business paychecks and a provision to write off loans will trickle down to restaurants.
We can’t guess where we’ll be in six months – or next week. But if history is any guide – and if New Yorkers are doing what we’ve always done – we’ll once again be sharing tables together from Belmont to Bensonhurst. Names and menus could be different from what we know. But, believe me, we will love them as much as the old ones. And maybe more alumni will come out of it than we dare to dream of.