An initiative called SaveTheEats is working to consolidate support for many restaurants that have closed or are struggling to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, New York City joined the growing list of participating cities on its website, including Philadelphia (where #SavePHILLYEats started on March 31), Washington, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
When lockdowns began in mid-March, many restaurants began making individual pleas on their websites and social media accounts for people to show support by donating to GoFundMe pages and buying gift cards, T-shirts and other merchandise. Since then, a few digital hubs like Recipes for Relief have been created to raise money for a number of restaurants, and charities that support food service workers.
For #SaveNYCEats, as in other cities, restaurants go beyond smaller fund-raising efforts by offering the kinds of special experiences usually listed for charity auctions in normal times. Ed’s Lobster Bar has posted a special four-course takeout dinner, and a seafood dinner for six prepared in your home by a team sometime in the future when social distancing restrictions are loosened. There are online classes from Joe Coffee and Jonah Miller of Huertas, and Scarpetta will arrange pasta-making classes when it’s allowed to reopen.
This digital platform was started by Anthony Bucci and David Bookspan, two food-loving tech entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. Their success there, where more than 100 restaurants have joined, led them to branch out. They created and financed the website themselves, and say they are not profiting in any way from it.
“Not a single dollar ever touches our hands,” the site says. “We’re a group of volunteers giving our time to connect food-loving consumers with opportunities to support their favorite spots.”
Their partners in New York, where 37 restaurants and counting are participating, are Rob Edell, a general manager at DoorDash; Stephanie Goldstein, a product owner at Avero, a restaurant data company; and Josh Klein, a consultant at Avero. All three, graduates of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, run the #SaveNYCEat page.