Although many New York City restaurants are struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic, some entrepreneurs see this as a good time to establish new eateries. Between March and September, nearly 2,550 restaurants have launched in the state, according to a Yelp economic impact report.
These openings come as more than 11,000 food and dining establishments in the state shut their doors between March and September, Yelp found. New York City, which has tighter restrictions on indoor dining than anywhere else in NY state, is projected to lose one-third of its restaurants and bars — between 8,000 and 12,000 locations — in 2021, according to the Office of the New York State Comptroller.
Dan Latu and Rachel Roberts spoke with two new restaurant owners about the challenges of launching a business during the pandemic.
Soon after signing a lease in January, Shweta Khare watched the pandemic unfold and alter her plans for opening a NYC cafe in the style of her home country of Australia. Khare knew that her business at 96th Street on the Upper West Side would look different than what she had planned, but she persisted through the uncertainty — and opened Gertrude, named after a street in Melbourne, in August.
Chuck Valla had been working for nearly 10 years as a private chef in NYC. When the pandemic hit, he surveyed the industry for the opportunity to bring his passion for Thai cuisine to Hell’s Kitchen. He opened Valla Table on 10th Avenue in October. Should another COVID-19 wave threaten indoor dining, Valla is going to rely heavily on take-out and deliveries, but he believes his restaurant will survive.
This story is the work of a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Other news organizations are welcome to publish this story as long as they adhere to these guidelines.