I always knew that when the end came, New Yorkers would watch it from a bar. But this was not the end any of us had imagined. Crowding together, not just a survival skill but an engine of the city in normal times, was the most dangerous thing of all.
I see two possible futures for restaurants. In one, state and local governments across the country move rapidly to help them survive the closings and get going again when that’s safe. In the other, bankruptcies cascade across the economy, and people are out of work in numbers this country has not seen since the 1930s.
Will a country that is still bitter about bailing out banks and airlines in the last financial crisis be ready to bail out ramen-yas, pupuserias, vegan sandwich counters, dosa vendors and natural wine bars? It depends on whether politicians and the public see the money as handouts to people who made bad business decisions (beginning, I suppose, with the decision to get into the restaurant business) or as a triage measure that will save the life of a national industry with sales of more than $800 billion last year.
March 19, 2020
Tags: COVID-19, NYC