March 17, 2020–As the governors of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey work in tandem to try to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus, restaurant businesses, in particular, were asked yesterday to act fast to implement changes.
Restaurants in all three states were asked to close 8 p.m. yesterday, and until further instruction, will be limited to providing food for pickup and delivery.
During this time, restaurants and bars will be allowed to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption. It is hoped that this measure will provide much-needed revenue to those establishments.
According to New Castle’s web site, Meals on Wheels will continue.
We reached several restaurant owners who moved quickly to make changes in light of all the new concerns regarding COVID-19 transmission.
Ignatio Blanco, owner of Ibiza Kitchen, located on King Street in Chappaqua, said he and his staff were working all day yesterday to transition to offering pickup and delivery options only.
“The prices will be cut in half,” Blanco said. “People are having a tough time right now.”
Bistrol 146 owner Marcello Torres said. “We’re going to do takeout, curbside pickup and I may have delivery,” he said, explaining that he’s in discussions with a current employee to see if he can start delivering food.
A couple employees had already left Bistro 146 before the new rules went into effect, Torres said. They have to care for their children who are now home from school, explained. Other staff members may be laid off.
“I don’t know what to do,” Torres said. “It’s sad for all of them.”
Bistro 146 will also suffer the loss of a lot of food that won’t be used up or last until the doors open to patrons again, Torres said. “I hope everyone knows what to do, and does it. Perhaps then we’ll be able to re-open in two weeks – I just don’t know.”
There is not yet a date for these establishments to re-open. In the meantime, Governor Andrew Cuomo has urged New Yorkers to stay home as much as they can, and when out to try to maintain a 6-foot distance from other people to halt the spread of the virus.
“It seems like it’s going to be for a while,” Blanco said.
At Winston in Mount Kisco, Manager Jimmy Branigan commented: “Well, like the rest of the nation, we are digesting something new that’s never happened to us before and doing the best we can. We want to take the proper steps to ensure our staff and guests stay healthy. We hope to get through it as quickly as possible but we understand that this is a pandemic our generation has never seen before.”
Winston is offering takeout and a promotion–a 15% discount with a purchase of $100 more for a gift card.
Large chains might be able to weather the pandemic more easily, closing to patrons for an indefinite period of time may be extremely difficult for local restaurants with individual or few locations.
Also closing: gyms and movie theaters, as well as casinos. Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville already announced closure some days ago, through March 31. They will be issuing refunds to patrons who pre-purchased tickets, the web site said.
The National Small Business Association released a new poll today that shows 3 out of 4 small business owners are “very concerned” about the impact of the coronavirus on their businesses, and 49 percent have experienced decreased customer demand.
Various media outlets such as Forbes and Eater have suggested the purchase of restaurant gift cards as a way to support local restaurants during this time.
It’s also a good time to order t-shirts and other merchandise some local restaurants sell.
Blanco said he does sell gift cards, by phone or on his restaurant’s website. Torres said local residents can also purchase Bistro 146 gift cards.
As for how community members can support his business, Blanco said “Any way is a good way.”
“I hope everything comes to a good end,” Torres said.
Publisher/Editor’s Note: We will be updating this article as time permits too.