By Robert Pozarycki
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the city’s restaurant industry, and next week’s New York City Restaurant Week To Go provides everyone with an affordable opportunity to support small businesses in their greatest time of need while safely enjoying some fine dining.
More than 570 restaurants across the city are participating in the campaign to promote local dining citywide between Jan. 25 and 31 (some participants may also offer the discounts the following week, Feb. 1-7). Diners will be able to order a great entrée and at least a side dish from the participating eateries, all week long, for $20.21.
According to NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing organization, more than 570 establishments across the five boroughs are participating in NYC Restaurant Week — an all-time record. It’s about 200 more than any recorded number of participating restaurants in a given year since the program was first launched in 1992.
With indoor dining still off-limits due to the pandemic rates in New York City, many eateries are offering the Restaurant Week discounts with takeout and delivery services for the first time.
“Restaurants and restaurant workers need our support now more than ever, so it was important to us that all eateries across the five boroughs had the opportunity to participate in this program aimed at increasing local support,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company.
The full list of participating restaurants will be unveiled on the morning of Jan. 25 at nycgo.com/restaurantweek. They will include eateries operated by world-renowned restaurateurs including José Andres (Mercado Little Spain, Hudson Yards); Joe Bastianich (Babbo, Greenwich Village); Tren’ness Woods-Black (Sylvia’s, Harlem); Leah Cohen (Pig & Khao, Lower East Side); Danny Meyer (Gramercy Tavern, Gramercy) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (The Fulton, Financial District).
More than 150 restaurants outside of Manhattan are also participating in Restaurant Week, including 78 in Brooklyn, 45 in Queens, 19 in Staten Island and 17 in the Bronx.
In past years, NYC Restaurant Week sought to highlight the incredible, diverse restaurants that call the city home. But this year, it has an even stronger purpose.
Restaurants across the city have suffered mightily since the pandemic’s arrival in New York City. Crowding restrictions implemented last March led to the permanent closure of many eateries; those that remained open were relegated to offering service only through takeout or delivery. Tens of thousands of line chefs, waiters and other restaurant employees lost their jobs, either permanently or temporarily.
When COVID-19 cases finally dropped in the summer, the city permitted restaurants to open outdoor dining areas, allowing operators to even use part of the street to set up tables for guests to return. It helped bring back some of the business, but many restaurants suffered major financial losses due to the loss of income and high rents.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance reported a summer survey of restaurant owners which found that 86% of respondents indicated that they couldn’t pay all of even part of their rent.
The industry suffered another blow in November when Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended indoor dining again, only about two months after it was reinstated at 25% maximum capacity, due to the arrival of the COVID-19 second wave. In the winter months, the city’s restaurants continue to provide outdoor seating (with heaters and other amenities to keep customers comfortable) as well as delivery and takeout.
The full list of Restaurant Week participants, when released Monday morning, will allow customers to search for eateries through various collections — including Black-owned, NYC Classics, Date Night (for couples), Winter Warm-Up and Editor’s Picks.
With so many restaurants providing only delivery or takeout options, online platforms such as Seamless and Grubhub have also agreed to reduce commissions and/or waive subscription fees during Restaurant Week, offering further financial help to eatery owners.
Customers who use MasterCard, the official sponsor of NYC Restaurant Week, also stand to benefit, as they’ll be eligible to receive a $10 statement credit ($100 maximum) for every Restaurant Week purchase they make with their MasterCard.
Visit nycgo.com/restaurantweek for more details.