On Tuesday March 17, New York City’s restaurants closed to the public, with the exception of takeout and delivery. It was a necessary step to flatten the COVID-19 curve—but also a heartbreaking one. New York’s wild and innovative culinary scene is a key component of its cultural fabric, and part of the reason New Yorkers love living here. The closures have already had a drastic economic effect: Thousands of workers were suddenly laid off, and businesses will forgo revenue for the near future. There’s a chance that many places that city dwellers know and love, from local haunts to Michelin-star mainstays, may not reopen.
So how can you help? Below, some of the best ways.
Order Delivery or Takeout
Ordering delivery or takeout is probably the easiest way to support your favorite restaurants—a number of which are offering these services for the first time ever. For example, Carbone (aka the hardest reservation to get in the city) is now on Caviar, which means you can now gobble up that spicy rigatoni vodka from your couch. Le Crocodile, fresh off its three-star New York Times review, is serving up straight three-course dinners: for $35 dollars, you get a herb roasted half chicken, broccoli rabe, cucumber mint salad, potato & leek soup, and chocolate chip cookies, serving two. (Think that would pair nicely with a glass of wine? You’re in luck: they’ve got a nice sauvignon blanc and pinot noir you can order on demand too.)
You must, however, also take the health of your delivery worker into account. Caviar, Postmates, and Seamless are all offering no-contact delivery, where they can leave orders in lobbies or by doors.
Get a Gift Card
When you purchase a gift card, it’s a win win: the restaurant gets the money immediately, and when this is all over, you already have a planned night on the town. Many restaurants are donating 100 percent of gift card profits to their employees, like NoHo Hospitality, whose restaurants include Locanda Verde and The Dutch, and Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.
Williamsburg’s Llama Inn is using all of their proceeds to stock the Llama Pantry, which supplies their staff with food and provisions.
Donate to a Staff Fund
Many New York restaurants are starting GoFundMe pages for all their workers, whom most eateries have had to let go in light of the shutdown. “We never thought that we would have to close our restaurants indefinitely and put our teams out of work,” Lilia co-founders Missy Robbins and Sean Feeney wrote on their fundraising page. “They are the reasons we come to work every day and they are the reasons for the success of our company and the community we have built.” Check your restaurant’s Instagram page if you can’t find it on their website—that’s how this writer found out about the staff fund for her favorite watering hole, Ray’s.