Restaurant Week Kicks Off In New York City Amid Unprecedented Struggle To Stay In Business

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a year like no other, restaurants around the city are struggling to stay afloat.

There are hopes that the annual Restaurant Week will give them a much-needed boost, but it won’t be business as usual.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Monday, Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, Queens has been a popular watering hole for more than 190 years. You may have seen it featured in the classic film “Goodfellas.” But owner Loycent Gorden said even its storied history isn’t enough to save it from the financial struggles of the pandemic.

MORENYC Ready For First Of Its Kind Restaurant Week To-Go

“Whether you open up 191 years or one year, we all are going through the same struggle,” he said.

A record 570 restaurants across the five boroughs are taking part in NYC & Company‘s 29th annual Restaurant Week. Many are barely making ends meet without indoor dining and few customers braving the cold for outdoor dining.

This year’s Restaurant Week to-go is the lifeline they need.

Domenico and Anthony Sacramone own Sac’s Place in Astoria, Queens.

“This is going to be a huge boost for us if the whole community, all of Queens, can come and help us out,” Anthony Sacramone said.

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Restaurants will be offering take out or delivery deals for $20.21, commemorating the new year.

NYC & Company waived participation fees and delivery platforms are discounting their commission this week.

“The main goal of this is just to get New Yorkers to do their civic duty and support the dining industry during this critical time,” said Alyssa Schmid, of NYC & Company.

“It’s so important that people participate in this because you’re literally saving a restaurant one order at a time,” Gordon said.

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This is the first time RedFarm on the Upper West Side is offering deals on their Chinese cuisine during Restaurant Week.

“Hopefully this will be a huge boost in business for us, and hopefully we’re reaching out to people who haven’t tried our food before,” said RedFarm Manager Lisa Rudolph. “Any chance to have a new customer come in and love us and become a regular once this is all over, it’s very exciting.”

The annual event comes as many who work in restaurants still await eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. There still have been no word on when exactly their turn will come.

COVID VACCINE

Global food manufacturer Cuisine Solutions is running a pop-up delivery-only operation out of a cramped Midtown basement. Chef Sean Wheaton told CBS2’s Nick Caloway essential employees like those in food service should be considered for the vaccine soon.

“I’m glad that we are considered one of those next couple of tiers down. Because we are directly relating to the public, we are interacting directly with the public, and we are interacting with their food,” Wheaton said.

If you are wondering when eating inside New York City restaurants will be on the menu again, don’t hold your breath. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that is not on the table, at least not yet.

“And we’re not at this point, at this point, contemplating any changes,” Cuomo said.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance said keeping indoor dining closed in the city, but not other parts of the state, is discriminatory and destroying the lives of small business owners.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director fo the Alliance issued a statement, saying in part, “Multiple legal actions have been filed to reopen indoor dining in New York City and we are exploring all additional legal options on behalf of the city’s restaurant industry to ensure equitable treatment and application of the governor’s executive orders.”

Renowned chef Daniel Boulud said it’s time to lift the restrictions.

“Of course. I think we are very responsible. We are very, very careful. And at 25% we were doing very well in terms of safety, and in terms of satisfaction, and in terms of business, itself. We kept more jobs,” Boulud said.

The chef said he would love to see indoor dining resume again before what is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year — Valentine’s Day.

That’s a little less than three weeks away.

For more information on Restaurant Week to-go, please CLICK HERE.

CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report

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