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Photography: Courtesy Quality Bistro / Christian Harder

How to help New York restaurants and bars now

Written by
Bao Ong

New York restaurants and bars have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have turned to delivery and takeout after the government mandated a shutdown. The concept of “business as usual” is out the window as these establishments figure out how to survive (selling alcohol to-go is now allowed). Chefs, bartenders, restaurateurs and the industry’s countless employees have shared their thoughts below with Time Out New York on how we can all help, from purchasing gifts cards to supporting a bailout for the food and beverage industry. 

Tom Colicchio

Photography: Jose Portillo

“We need government stimulus. If you work in restaurants or care at all about the hard working individuals in the industry, please call your representatives and your senators and demand that we are part of the federal stimulus plan." Tom Colicchio, founder of Crafted Hospitality and Top Chef judge

“If you’re able, make sure to tip well. The employees need every dollar they can get and they’re out working through this thing to make sure food is available for the public and to support their families.” Noam Grossman, chef and founder of Upside Pizza and Norm’s Pizza

Gage & Tollner

Photography: Lizzie Munro

“A great fundraiser to donate to is the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund! It aims to help both individuals in the industry and small businesses, so it has broad reach." Caroline Schiff, pastry chef at Gage & Tollner (pictured above, which has delayed its highly-anticipated opening in light of the pandemic)

“My thoughts went immediately to those that don’t have the resources to provide for their family. No income, no food, no other resources. Many of us went to the store and bought all that we could before it ran out but for too many, they never had the money or ability to buy anything or prepare on time. It’s our responsibility to help those who struggle to help themselves and to me, it’s always best to take action than it is to bear the discomfort of doing nothing. I believe that the universe works in strange ways, when we serve others, we ourselves are cared for in return.” John Doherty, chef-owner of Blackbarn Restaurant 


Photography: Courtesy of Kettl

"During these challenging times we have to come together and support each other. It is also about supporting ourselves as well through creativity. Our shops are closed, but that gives us a chance to engage in other ways. At Kettl, we will be launching online tastings through our website to continue sharing our love for tea and connecting with our community during these trying times." Zach Mangan, founder of Kettl, which is also offering free domestic shipping using the promo code “freeshipping”)

“For direct impact, we can book future planned events early and pay deposits, buy gift cards, contribute to laid off workforce support funds, and call your favorite restaurant and offer direct financial support, a loan or line of credit.” Max Katzenberg, partner at Olmsted and Maison Yaki

Jordan Salcito

Photography: Daniel Krieger

“At @drinkramona, we are working from home and ordering delivery in support of our local restaurants. We will be donating $3,734.40, the average monthly salary of a server in a New York City restaurant, according to a recent survey from New York City Hospitality Alliance, to the Restaurant Worker's COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund. As a small business with our roots in NYC, we feel it’s more important now than ever to support our local hospitality community. We encourage anyone who is able to join us in this effort to consider contributing to this fund.” Jordan Salcito, CEO and founder of Ramona

"More than ever, this is the time everyone needs to do their part collectively and stay home until things calm down. Until the numbers go down, the restaurant and hospitality industry will continue to suffer. Do your part and support your local businesses through ordering delivery and purchasing vouchers or gift cards, but I can't stress enough how important it is for people to stay home." Derek Feldman, founder of Uchū Hospitality 

Via Vai

Photography: Courtesy of Anna Frumenti

"Food is the soul of our being, and we are all affected by these trying times. Feed the soul—support your favorite restaurants by ordering from them as you would if you have gone there to eat in. Enjoy your meal in the comfort of your own home, and look forward one day soon again sharing that experience with friends and other diners in the restaurants themselves.” Antonio Morichini, executive chef and owner of Via Vai 

“We have not yet closed our doors because we’re doing what we can to pay for all 40 of our employees with the profit that we make daily. This is why we also created a GoFundMe to raise money to provide relief to the staff we consider our family. Our staff members, who are the heart and the soul of our restaurant, need our help the most to be able to live through this uncertain time.” Jenn Saesue, co-owner of Fish Cheeks 

"This is obviously an incredibly difficult time for our industry and for the world. I encourage everyone to stay connected in any way that they can. For us, we want to know what you're baking at home. We're always, always happy to share recipes with folks (and know our industry friends and family are too!)—reach out to your favorite restaurants via DM and ask for our recipes. Tag us in your baking (or cooking) projects! With kids home from school, too, we imagine people are looking for a project - get them involved and let us know how you're doing. We're here for you!" Greg Rales, baker and owner at Red Gate Bakery

Concord Hill chef

Photography: Courtesy of Concord Hill

“One way people can make a bigger difference is to order takeout and delivery from restaurants directly rather than via apps like Seamless or Grubhub, which are still charging us high commission fees of 25% and only deferring them for a couple of weeks instead of waving them or limiting to 10% or less. And order drinks from us too – we can bring you cocktails, spirits, beer and wine now! “ Guy Kairi, chef and owner of Concord Hill 

“With the majority of everyone staying home and having more free time, give us reviews! Whether it’ll be on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or even social media, please give good reviews to your local restaurants. Good reviews means better business in the long run, especially when the COVID-19 situation is over, it will help our business bounce back better than ever.” Rocky Romruen, co-owner of Thep Thai Restaurant 

“Food can often bring comfort in times like this, and we want to continue to provide that for our communities. If you are looking for a way to help your favorite restaurants, I would suggest seeing if they are offering takeout or delivery options. Another suggestion would be to purchase a gift card that you can use at a later date. A little goes a long way to help small businesses push through uncertain times.” Jamie Kenyon, executive chef and partner of Bottino

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“I want to do everything I can to make sure we can rebuild when this is all behind us...which means taking care of restaurant and bar owners, managers, employees, purveyors now.” Sarah Stafford, events and communications manager at Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels

"Engage with your local restaurants and bars on their social channels. The reason we're all in this business is because of our guests and team. Stay connected and say hello, we all love to hear from you." Lorenzo Panella, co-owner of Antica Pesa

“People should be calling their congressperson urging them to push for financial relief for hospitality businesses. The main issue we're going to run into is cash flow for small businesses across the F&B industry.” John Dantzler, CEO and co-founder of Torch & Crown Brewery & Restaurant 

* Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity

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Time Out’s Love Local campaign is supporting local food, drink and culture in New York. Find out how you can help save the places that make our city great.

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