Danny Meyer Says His NYC Dining Rooms May Stay Shuttered Until Vaccine While Wisconsin Bars Reopen

By Neat Pour Staff |

Super-star restauranteur, Danny Meyer (Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Porchlight, just to name a few) told Bloomberg News that his 19 New York City restaurants will likely keep their dining rooms closed until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Meanwhile, bars in Wisconsin opened their door and welcomed customers on Wednesday (5.14) night.

An Inhospitable Environment for Union Square Hospitality

Meyer told Bloomberg that the necessary safety measures would be at odds with his celebrated brand of over-the-top hospitality. In addition, the trailblazer explained that the mathematics of restaurants at reduced capacity simply does not work.

“We won’t be welcoming guests into our full-service restaurants for a very long time—probably not until there’s a vaccine,” he said. “There is no interest or excitement on my part to having a half-full dining room while everyone is getting their temperature taken and wearing masks, for not much money.”

As a stopgap measure, Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group plans to reopen some properties for to-go business. He noted that his café Daily Provisions already includes a takeout window. They hope to begin selling breakfast foods as early as next week and expand from there. Logically, USHG’s pizza joint, Marta will reopen for go orders next.

In March, USHG laid off 2000 employees, the majority of their workforce. Meyer said that the remaining workers are focused on creating out-of-the box strategies for survival.

“Among the few people left in the company are chefs and [general managers]. Each one is cooking up their own entrepreneurial scheme. Mike Anthony [chef of Gramercy Tavern] has plans to do farmers market meal kits. I’ve just urged all these guys to scare themselves with entrepreneurial skills and take risks.”

Wisconsin Bars Pack Them In

Meanwhile, over in Wisconsin, bar owners are once again swinging their doors open. After the state’s conservative Supreme Court ruled in favor of Republican legislators who has sued to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) stay-at-home order.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin (exactly what the name sounds like) celebrated the judgment by announcing that bars “can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!”

And, open immediately is exactly what many bars did. Local media and social flooded with reports of bar-goers returning to their favorite haunts.

A tweeted photo of a packed (and PPE free) Nick’s Bar in Platteville, Wisconsin quickly went viral.

The TLW recommended that bars adhere to social distancing and require measures including PPE for staff. Some venues did abide by those rules and many other bar owners voluntarily chose to remain closed.

Likewise, in the states two largest population centers, Milwaukee and Madison, bars remained closed by local(er) order.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) said that his city-wide order superseded any state level decisions. “That order remains in effect, including all provisions on public gatherings, restaurants, and bar operations.”

At press time, Wisconsin had reported 10,902 and 421 deaths to date. Evers warned that those numbers will sharply increase due to the reopenings.

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