A new winter COVID-19 surge in New York City has temporarily shuttered more than two dozen restaurants, battering an industry that had only begun to claw its way back from a nearly two-year pandemic ordeal.
Almost all the restaurants that have closed have put up statements on Instagram explaining there are confirmed COVID-19 exposures among their staff, as the delta and omicron variants tear through the city. On Thursday, Eater compiled a list of a dozen of the restaurants, some of which have since reopened and some of which said they won't reopen for several days.
That number ballooned to at least 30 by Friday morning.
"It's a bummer to limp into the holiday break on such a difficult week for everyone," said Chef Dennis Ngo, who runs Greenpoint's Di An Di, which shut down Wednesday after one positive case on their team.
"We take this stuff very seriously," Ngo told Gothamist. "That necessitated us closing, and then we required everyone to go out and get tested. We were asking all of our team members to either get two rapid tests back-to-back on consecutive days, or one PCR test. And based on that, we would have felt comfortable opening if we had all of those results in for today, but we experienced a lot of testing challenges."
He said his 30 employees were met with long lines at testing locations around Greenpoint, and many sites ended up running out of rapid tests.
"Even the ones that got PCRs, they were promised results by the end of the day yesterday, and they still haven't seen results yet," he noted Thursday. Some tried to get home tests, but they "had to go to three or four pharmacies to get it. It became kind of a game yesterday of trying to find what was the fastest place or easiest way to get them rapid tests."
Ngo estimated the restaurant loses around $7,000-$9,000 each night it's closed. On top of that, they were already planning to close for two weeks at the end of the month starting next week to give their team a break from such a challenging year, so it's unclear whether they'll have the chance to reopen before then.
So far, there are more than ten restaurants in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area that have shut down:Bernie's, Cozy Royale, Di An Di, We Got Company, Winonas, Thief, Frankel's Delicatessen, Pheasant, L'industrie Pizzeria, Misi, Lilia, Five Leaves, Four Horsemen. There were several more in other Brooklyn neighborhoods: LaLou, Love, Nelly, Nite Nite, Oxalis, Rialto Grande, Otway, Bar Meridian. Grand Army Bar and Ugly Baby both announced they would stay closed until the end of the year.
The surge has also hit places in Ridgewood, including The Acre (who recommended that anyone who went there this week get tested), Porcelain, and I Like Food (who said they would remain closed until after Christmas). Other restaurants that have shut down in various parts of the city include Temperance Wine Bar in the West Village, Bessou in the Lower East Side and Top Quality in Long Island City.