By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order on Tuesday limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to take-out and delivery orders only as a precaution against coronavirus, also ordering nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues to close.
“Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago,” the mayor said. “We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors. Now it is time to take yet another drastic step. The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.”
While many non-food related businesses have temporarily closed, some restaurants have also opted to close while the city fights the pandemic.
The Union Square Hospitality Group announced on Friday that all of their restaurants would be closing temporarily. The list includes Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Union Square Cafe, Daily Provisions and others, although Shake Shack locations will remain open and will shift to a “to-go” only operating model. The company said on Tuesday that they would be setting up an employee relief fund to support the team members affected. Through March 24, when patrons purchase a gift card, 100% of the sales will go towards the employee relief fund. The gift card purchases can be redeemed at any of the restaurants, bars and cafes in New York or Washington DC.
For those who might be worried about the risk of transmission when ordering take-out, the Atlantic reported over the weekend that cooked food poses very little risk of passing on the illness but customers should be mindful of interactions with delivery people in order to protect both themselves and the deliverers. Hand washing before eating is recommended, but customers can also request that the food be left outside the door to minimize the risk for both parties.
Town & Village has compiled a list of neighborhood restaurants that, as of Tuesday, are open for pick-up and delivery orders in most cases. Many restaurants seem to be offering most of the items on their menu but workers at multiple spots said that they weren’t sure what their stock would look like by the end of the week.
Ess-A-Bagel, 324 First Avenue (at East 19th St.), ess-a-bagel.com, (212) 980-1010
Co-owner Beverly Wilpon said that the Ess-A-Bagel on First Avenue is continuing to open at 6 a.m., serving a number of hospital workers their morning coffee and bagels. She said that the shop is usually open until 8 p.m. but the hours have been inconsistent lately and they have been keeping the store open until everything runs out, which lately has been between 7 and 8 p.m., On Tuesday their website noted that they closed at 3 p.m. but they planned to be open again early on Wednesday morning.
Wilpon said that the menu is the same and they hope not to change anything, but they have brought in a few extra items, including yogurts and fruit cups. The regular menu offers various sliced deli meats, egg sandwiches, all cream cheeses including tofu, nova, salmon and, as always, hot bagels all day long.
“If people are afraid they need to be sequestered, our bagels can be frozen for three months and they still taste fantastic,” she suggested.
She noted that the business does accept both cash and credit card payments but said that they are trying to limit cash payments to minimize person-to-person contact.
Wilpon said that the best way to order is by calling, but orders can also be submitted online through their website and other ordering platforms like Seamless and GrubHub.
“It’s a scary time for everyone and it’s a scary time for businesses but we feel grateful that we sell what we sell because it’s something people still really need,” Wilpon said. “We’re all gonna get through this little tough time now and we’ll all be stronger for it.”
Mexico Lindo, 459 Second Avenue (corner of East 26th St.), mexicolindonyc.com, (212) 679-3665
Mexico Lindo started taking orders at noon on St. Patrick’s Day. The restaurant is also offering craft cocktail orders, margaritas and sangria, in accordance with the temporary rules in place from Governor Cuomo and the State Liquor Authority. Owner Lara Bonilla said that the restaurant is working on a skeleton crew of just a couple of people but most of the menu is available for orders, including items such as pork chops, fajitas and enchiladas.
Bonilla said that the business is assessing the situation “day by day, hour by hour” because there have been rumors about a lockdown but she said that they will remain open as long as they can.
As of Tuesday evening, the restaurant is planning to open by noon and remain open until 7 or 8 p.m. Bonilla said that the best way to submit an order is by calling the restaurant at (212) 679-3665. They are primarily accepting orders only for pick-up and the restaurant won’t be making any deliveries themselves, but customers can get food delivered through Postmates.
Mi Noodle Bar, 391 Second Avenue (at East 23rd St.), (212) 381-9629
A worker at the restaurant on Tuesday said that their full menu is available now but they may have to make adjustments if they start running out of items. The restaurant is planning to open at their usual time, 11:30 a.m., but may be closing a little earlier than usual at 7 p.m. Online ordering is available through GrubHub and Seamless and orders for pick up and delivery can also be placed by phone.
Grill 21, 346 East 21st Street (at First Ave.), (212) 473-5950
The menu at Grill features Filipino cuisine and the restaurant offers noodle dishes, as well as vegetable, seafood, chicken, beef and pork options. The restaurant is still offering its full menu but might have to make adjustments in the next few days. They are accepting phone orders for pick up and delivery, and they deliver to address in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The restaurant will be open at 10 a.m. every day and closing slightly earlier than their usual hours at 8 p.m. because of the restrictions in place.
Lunetta Pizza and Restaurant, 245 Third Avenue (at East 20th St.), lunettanyc.com, (212) 432-5200
This pizza spot in Gramercy is open for pick-up and delivery orders. The restaurant offers whole pizzas with various toppings as well as appetizers such as garlic knots, mozzarella sticks, beef patties, chicken fingers, buffalo wings and other options. The menu also offers hot and cold subs, as well as pasta, wraps and salads. Orders are accepted by phone and through the website.
Trader Joe’s has also revised their store hours for all locations starting on Monday, March 16. Until further notice, all stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in order to support crew members. Gracefully at 320 First Avenue in Stuyvesant Town is also still open, with hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. where customers can get various grocery items, in addition to pre-made salads, wraps and sandwiches.