Despite COVID NYC Gets Their Eats On

Braving the cold for dinner and friendship at the Black Iris on DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn. Photo by Ariama C. Long

Bust out those wallets New York and bring an appetite, the long-running New York City Restaurant Week kicked off today, Jan. 25, with its first ever ‘To Go’ twist to accommodate COVID and indoor dining restrictions. 

About 571 eateries, including 78 in Brooklyn, 45 in Queens, 19 in Staten Island, and 17 in the Bronx, have made this restaurant promo week the largest since 1992. 

“That’s actually quite amazing given what we’re going through,” said de Blaiso at this morning’s news brief. “That is everywhere in the city from Sylvia’s in Harlem to Denino’s in Staten Island. Here’s a great opportunity.”

Heat lamps like this one at the Black Iris on DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn help make outdoor dining more pleasurable. Photo by Ariama C. Long

Restaurants will offer at least one bargain takeout and delivery meal for 20 bucks and 21 cents, a play on the year 2021. The promo week will run from January 25 to 31, and restaurants also have the option to extend for an additional week into February 1 to 7. NYC Restaurant Week To Go calls upon all New Yorkers to support the dining community during a critical time.

NYC & Company runs the programming behind restaurant week, and got its start back in 2006 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was an integration of three existing entities, called NYC & Company, NYC Big Events and NYC Marketing. Now, it is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York throughout the five boroughs.  

“Restaurants and restaurant workers need our support now more than ever, so it was important to us that all eateries across the five boroughs had the opportunity to participate in this program aimed at increasing local support,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company. “We are grateful to each of them for coming together to showcase NYC’s world-class cuisine during this reimagined NYC Restaurant Week. And to New Yorkers we say make plans to do your part – order often and be generous with gratuities.” 

NYC & Company has waived participation fees for vendors to help the industry in this dire time and simultaneously celebrate the city’s continuing role as the dining capital of the world, said the company.

Delivery platforms, which have had an ongoing pricing battle with local restaurants since last May, have agreed to discount commissions or waive their fees on Seamless, Grubhub, BentoBox, Bbot, and Tock during the promo week. Mastercard, the official program sponsor, will also provide registered cardholders with a $10 statement credit on each NYC Restaurant Week To Go purchase as part of the All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways promotion.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) has spoken out against the crack down on indoor dining that’s still in effect.

Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan

“It has been over a month since the second closure of indoor dining by the Governor’s Executive Order, and there have been zero updates from as to when restaurants will be permitted to re-open at any indoor capacity,” said Brannan. “We cannot expect restaurant owners and staff to hang on until everyone is vaccinated – by that point, very few of our restaurants will remain.” 

Brannan said that at the very least, Governor Andrew Cuomo needs to clarify what metrics are being used to re-open indoor dining so that restaurants can plan and prepare.

“Governor Cuomo must issue guidance immediately, and in the meantime, DC must pass the RESTAURANTS Act. This would put desperately need[ed] money in the pockets of restaurant owners and help them & their staff pull through this final chapter of the pandemic. Until then, if you are able, please keep supporting our local restaurants by ordering take-out and enjoying outdoor dining whenever you can,” said Brannan.

In agreement, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said that it’s “outrageous” the state has opened restaurants with 50 percent occupancy in places with higher infection rates and have NYC still closed to indoor dining. He added that the Restaurants Act of 2020 was left out of the last round of stimulus and needs to be passed to help struggling restaurants in the city

“Governor Cuomo’s never-ending restrictions keeping indoor dining closed at New York City restaurants, while keeping it open around the rest of the state where infection and hospitalization rates are higher than in New York City, is discriminatory and is destroying the livelihoods of small business owners and workers,” said Rigie.

All in all, Rigie said that restaurant week has always been monumentally important for generating new customers restaurants and this year will take on a whole new meaning. “Restaurant owners need all the promotion they can get because they’re teetering on the edge of survival,” said Rigie.

Visit nycgo.com/restaurantweek for the full list of restaurants. 

And don’t forget to try their new search feature that offers restaurants grouped into creative collections such as, Black-Owned, NYC Classics, Date Night, Fry-Yay!, Winter Warm-Up, The Slice Is Right, Editors’ Picks, and Stella Artois To Go, highlighting restaurants serving Stella Artois. The offer is valid for lunch and/or dinner and includes an entrée and at least one side.

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