As the coronavirus pandemic takes a grip worldwide, restaurants are among the first businesses to feel the hard edge as chefs and owners are forced to close or comply with government directives to protect public health.
France, Holland, Denmark, Spain, Greece and Portugal are just some of the countries that have followed Italy's lead and closed all restaurants and bars in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. While in the U.S., many states, including New York, are mandating that restaurants stay open only for delivery.
While restaurant groups have banded together to call for tax breaks and delivery fees in New York, associations of restaurants have formed in Italy to call for similar economic help and restaurants around the world have responded to the coronavirus outbreak in a number of unique and diverse ways.
From fine dining drive-thrus and three-Michelin-starred home delivery services, to restaurant vouchers and complimentary protective paper screens, here are some of the ways chefs and restaurants around the world are adjusting and responding to offer continuity in an unknown world.
Fine Dining Goes Drive-Thru in Seattle
Fine dining restaurant Canalis is Seattle has decided to close their main dining service and will instead offer diners three other options: The Bagel Shed, a takeout-only breakfast, a Drive On Thru option for burgers and a meal delivery service called Family Meal.
Their website reads; "Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now. Instead, this is one idea for safely creating jobs for our employees while serving as much of our city as we can. We've got this, Seattle."
Three Michelin starred food deliveries in Italy
Three Michelin star restaurant Da Vittorio near Bergamo in northern Italy has suspended all its dining activities in line with official directives while activating an at home delivery service; "The #DaVittorioAtHome service will remain active, the delivery service with which we will continue to whet your appetite" they reminded customers on social channels.
The Cerea brothers who own the restaurant have designed three special menus for their home delivery service with a choice of fish, meat and vegetarian delivered directly to customer's homes.
Free Pizza Delivery in Denmark
This pizzeria in Denmark is rewarding its loyal customers by coming to them instead, with pizza and wine deliveries - free of charge.
Customer screening in the US
Sichuan Impression has been using infrared thermometers to screen patrons at its three locations in Alhambra, Tustin and West Los Angeles. Those who don’t comply with the temperature check won’t be served, the restaurant has said.
Tom Douglas Closes 12 restaurants in Seattle
One of Seattle's best-known chefs, Tom Douglas, has temporarily closed 12 of his 13 restaurants after sales declined up to 90% since the coronavirus outbreak and analysis proved it was the only business model that made sense.
The Plumed Horse in Saratoga has implemented a “black-glove policy”
The Plumed Horse has removed 60 per cent of its total seating, as well as having all of its serving staff who come into contact with diner's tables wear black latex gloves.
The Crenn Dining Group remains open with US chef Dominique Crenn highlighting the meticulous hygiene measures in place in her restaurants in a "business as usual with extra vigilance approach"; "Be vigilant, be clean, take care of yourselves. But know that we're still here. Our team is lined up right now, ready to welcome you into our home. Just like so many small businesses around this city and around the world. Don't forget to take care of us; we'll take excellent care of you."
NYC Restaurants Reduce in Capacity by 50 percent but many choose to close
NYC bars and restaurants have had to reduce capacity by 50 per cent in line with a government mandate in order to remain open but within hours of this announcement, some of the city's biggest restaurants announced closures. Eric Ripert posted on Le Bernardin's page to say the three-star restaurant would be closed for two weeks, he said, "while authorities have not asked restaurants to close, we believe this is the best step to ensure the safety of our staff." While Danny Meyer has closed all of his Union Square Hospitality Group's restaurants in New York, a list of 19 places in total, including Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.
Restaurants set up voucher scheme
Some restaurants companies, like Harts Group and Kricket, in the UK are incentivising customers to buy gift vouchers by adding an additional percentage of up to 20% to help with immediate cash flow while allowing customers to support their favourite restaurants.
Buffets take a hit in Vegas
MGM Resorts International announced it will be temporarily closing the buffets at all of its Las Vegas-based properties starting Sunday, March 15 and not everyone's happy about it - with the buffets being as big a draw as the gambling for some die-hard fans.
Restaurants taking responsibility
As per the lead from Italy, chefs are stepping up to take responsibility for staff and customer health and welfare. Lars Bjerregaard from Kamilla Seidler'sLola restaurant in Copenhagen said;
"We have decided to close down for two weeks in response to our government's plea for everyone to take responsibility. We do that even though we don't know what the future holds and for how long it will take and how much money it will cost us. But in the broader perspective, it's the only right thing to do."
Restaurants Request Sales Tax Cuts in Chicago
Alinea Group co-founder Nick Kokonas is urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to reduce the 11.75-percent sales tax to prompt locals and tourists to dine out more as Chicago's bars and restaurants take a financial blow. Officials are yet to comment.
Dining behind a paper shield!
One of China’s biggest food delivery firms, Meituan, is delivering a protective 20-inch wide paper “shield” to diners ordering from its platform in a bid to help protect them from catching the coronavirus while they dine.