New York’s restaurants are in the midst of a fight for survival. With indoor dining prohibited for the foreseeable future, the situation is dire. A few Lower East Side spots have already been forced to close (Beverly’s, Randall’s BBQ, Cocoa Bar), and prospects for many others are dim. Outdoor dining is, at best, a partial solution, and a temporary one.
So we look for bright spots wherever they can be found. We were happy to see Wu’s Wonton King on East Broadway back open this week (takeout is available daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Owner Derek Wu and his team were all smiles when we picked up dinner shortly before closing time last night. It was a huge relief to see Chinatown institution, Jing Fong, reopening for takeout and delivery earlier this month. Another iconic Lower East Side destination, Katz’s Deli, began offering outdoor seating on Ludlow Street. And many of the vendors in the Market Line, part of the Essex Crossing complex, have reopened for delivery.
Restaurant owners across the city and country are calling on the federal government to step in to save independent operators. Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy announced her restaurant’s reopening for takeout and delivery a few days ago, and also sounded an alarm:
I’m not too worried about McDonald’s and Applebee’s, but there are 500,000 independent and small restaurants in this country, employing millions of people, and while Dirt Candy will find a way, what about the diner on your corner, the Chinese place you adore, or that Italian restaurant down the street. A lot of us won’t be coming back. I already know friends who have closed for good, and more are coming. But we can’t lose everyone. So I’ve gotten involved with the Independent Restaurant Coalition, whose massive membership is lobbying Congress to save small restaurants. We’ve already gotten substantial changes to the PPP that help increase our odds and now we need your help to pass the RESTAURANTS Act.
A similar appeal went out from Russ and Daughters, perhaps the Lower East Side’s most venerable food institution:
Let’s not imagine a New York without Russ & Daughters Cafe, Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum or any of your favorite restaurants that form the heart of our communities. You can help #SaveRestaurants and jumpstart the national economy by doing one simple thing: tell your representatives to support the RESTAURANTS Act. The Act creates a $120B Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund that would:
•Generate up to $271B in economic benefits.
•Single-handedly reduce the unemployment rate by an estimated 2.4%
•Without the fund, 85% of independent restaurants could close permanently.
You can show your support by visiting the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s website here.