Distanced dining

New York City, the city of never-ending sleep and one of the culinary capitals of the globe, is currently drowsy as new regulations mandate the closing of all bars, restaurants, and eateries to diners in person. As the ritual of dining out comes to an end, New York, like many other cities, is now eerily silent.New York City, Los Angeles, and other major cities in the United States have decided to close all bars and restaurants to diners on March 15, 2020 (though takeouts and deliveries are still allowed) to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. These cities have joined a growing list of states that have issued similar orders, including Pennsylvania (at the time this article was written), Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington.

People around the globe are taking precautions to protect themselves and others from the threat of the disease. This has a dramatic impact on the way that we interact with our communities. It’s no longer possible to meet for a meal or even a drink. This can be especially crippling in areas where food is a part of the culture. Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, said that the restaurants and bars in the city were part of its heart and soul when he announced the mandatory closures of March 15, 2013. They are a part of the New Yorker experience.
Faced with these restrictions, the industry has reacted by implementing alternative services to the traditional ones and providing additional support to the bars and restaurants, which are pillars of the community.New York City is temporarily relaxing its strict alcohol restrictions. New York State Liquor Authority has announced that they will allow alcohol takeout sales on March 16, 2020. This is to reduce the impact of bar and restaurant closures. Deliveries are also helping to support local culinary establishments. Uber Eats will waive the delivery charge for all orders placed with local restaurants, and Grubhub and Seamless are waiving commission fees to independent restaurants whom this decree has threatened livelihoods. “Independent restaurants feed our communities and are the heart of our cities.” We have had a long-term relationship with them and wanted to support them during this time of crisis,” said Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney.

Customers can now request to have their food left at the front door using popular food delivery services and apps. Seamless has announced a no-contact option for its delivery service. Grubhub, Postmates, and Deliveroo have also made similar announcements. Uber Eats and DoorDash encourage customers to give specific delivery instructions.Contactless digital ordering may extend beyond the blockade. George Wallace, CEO of MHE Retail and Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, says that one of the long-term effects could be the increase in online shopping by people who don’t usually shop online. “You will see a rise, faster than you would have otherwise, in the penetration of online shopping–particularly in food.”

Delivery is growing beyond these apps. Many restaurants that can’t accommodate diners at their establishments are shifting to delivery-centric models. They expand their takeout menus and introduce limited or bespoke options.Some restaurants have a more innovative approach and are exploring new revenue streams and retail models. Bungalow By Middle Brow, a Chicago brewpub, announced that on March 15, 2020, it will introduce a make-it-yourself pizza kit and a subscription for beer bread and pizza. All Together Now has added a wine-and-cheese hotline where customers can place orders and get personalized recommendations. Restaurants such as Pacific Standard Time, Flat & Point, and Flat & Point offer $40-$50 ready-to-eat meals.

Little Collins will launch “Little Collins Pantry,” a new line of products, in New York on March 17, 2020. Products include homemade pasta sauces and soups, as well as grilled chicken, marinated portobello steak, and grilled chicken. Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles created an “emergency kit” that included all the ingredients for a 4-person taco meal, plus four rolls of toilet tissue. Employees Only, a renowned cocktail bar in West Hollywood, began selling a DIY cocktail kit on March 13. Canlis is one of Seattle’s most prestigious fine dining establishments. On March 16, it closed its dining room and opened three new businesses to replace it: a bagel store, a drive-through burger window, and a service that delivers family meals.

Food has been a source of comfort and community since the beginning of time. In the changing reality dictated by the COVID-19 mitigation and prevention measures, restaurants and bars that are integral to the local community have been forced to pivot. Businesses that depend on customers, such as bars and restaurants, are adapting to the fact that social gatherings have become increasingly limited. They explore alternative income streams and diversify their services.

Mark Canlis is the co-owner of Canlis, and he told Fast Company that “[there are] two things which haven’t really changed: people still need to eat, and they still need to work.” Many great people can provide great solutions. We need to be able to think positively and creatively, to express our optimism, and to affirm that we believe in ourselves. ‘”

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