Foodservice industry worried as winter and omicron arrive in New York

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Can restaurants weather the Omicron storm?

There is still so much unknown about the new variant of COVID-19 and its resistance to vaccines. But the hospitality industry is watching it closely – the pandemic has been particularly difficult for restaurants.

“I started to feel it from a business point of view. This week has been the slowest week in the last 3 or 4 months and part of it may be due to this new variant, ”said Alain Chevreux, owner of Café Du Soleil.

The Upper West Side restaurant has one advantage during the winter months: it has individual bubbles with electric heaters that keep diners warm.

Patrick Weir and his wife Suzannah had lunch on Friday in one of these bubbles.

“I’m more comfortable than she is with meals, so she was very excited to be in the bubble,” he said.

Inside the restaurant, Peggy Hamilton had lunch with her longtime friend. She said she is vaccinated and boosted and that she is comfortable and happy inside.

“It’s just part of the exhilaration of living in New York City to eat indoors,” Hamilton said. “Eating out was a lot of fun for a while, then when it’s cold, not so much.”

According to Andrew Rigie of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, businesses are already contacting restaurants to move the holiday season to January.

“Anytime we seem to be on some sort of road to recovery, there is another hurdle and that is why we will need continued support from all levels of government,” Rigie said.

The New York City government recently phased out propane heaters as an option to keep al fresco diners warm, citing fire and environmental hazards.

New York City Councilor Keith Powers said he hopes to turn the tide.

“I signed a letter … calling [the Eric Adams] administration here today to keep the propane heaters for this winter, ”he said.

Powers is also looking for a way through New York City Council, he said.


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