Union Square Hospitality Group has discontinued all on-site dining at its restaurants to focus on takeout, delivery, nationwide shipping, and virtual events, founder and CEO Danny Meyer said in an email to customers Friday.
The group, based in New York City, only had been offering dining-room service — at 25% capacity — at three of its restaurants: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and the Battery Park City location of Blue Smoke.
“Given the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases in New York City, and even within our own USHG community, we are making the decision that is in the best interest of the health and safety of our people.” Meyer said.
He added that the decision would allow his staff “to put 100% of their efforts into cooking amazing food that you can enjoy in the comfort and safety of your own home, whether picked up contact-free or delivered to you.
“In a year that has been filled with so much emotional and economic uncertainty, I’m so proud of the remarkable efforts our restaurant industry has collectively exhibited, bringing life, light, and hope to the city of New York. And I’m enormously grateful to our USHG team members who have gone to such great lengths to create the safest and most welcoming possible environment in which to serve our guests,” he added.
He further encouraged his customers to patronize their favorite restaurants beyond USHG through pickup and delivery, buying holiday gift cards or contributing to their employee relief funds.
Meyer said USHG staff would continue to cook meals for Rethink, which provides meals to people in need.
“We know there remain many hard weeks ahead of us, but with the recent uplifting announcements of advances in vaccines and treatments, we also know real hope is on the horizon,” Meyer said. “The minute winter weather is behind us and the environment returns to feeling safe, we will eagerly return to on-site dining — first on our sidewalks, and eventually in our dining rooms. We especially send our love and heartfelt thanks to the first responders, medical community, and essential workers who are keeping us safe.
“Above all, we want to share our gratitude with you for your loyal friendship and steadfast support. It means more than ever!”
As COVID-19 cases rise in New York City as they are in much of the world, the city is bracing for further restrictions. Public schools shifted to remote learning earlier this week, and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday said that the state would likely order dining rooms to close again, after opening at 25% capacity on September 30, in a matter of weeks.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary