Appetizers 12/16: Restaurateurs Push Back on Dining Restrictions

An empty Aquavit | Credit: Signe Birck

Welcome to Appetizers, OpenTable’s column that aims to uplift and motivate with a roundup of the most inspiring food-world news of the moment. Discover the things that are making us laugh, cry, think, and just plain hungry for more.

Making Us … Order More Takeout

As cities, counties, and states around the country struggle to contain COVID-19, implementing tighter restrictions that frequently impact indoor dining, industry groups and individual restaurants are pushing back. Through formal lawsuits and public pleas, many are demanding a risk/benefit analysis, and others are defying orders outright. No matter the tactic, the sentiment is the same: concern over survival. As the owner of New York’s Aquavit told TimeOut New York, “Closing all indoor dining is a devastating blow to thousands of restaurants and their employees.” One thing is clear: restaurants need our support to survive.

Making Us … Proud

Last week, chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, became the first celebrity to take home the full million-dollar prize on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” It was a win for the hospitality industry in more ways than one — Chang is donating the entirety of his winnings to Southern Smoke, a non-profit dedicated to raising funds to provide support and assistance for those in the food and beverage community.

Making Us … Reflect

With a new year on the horizon, Bon Appétit asked members of the industry to reflect on 2020. Some, like José Andrés, have faith in the industry’s resiliency, having seen its members band together to help themselves and others through his organization World Central Kitchen. “I don’t feel defeated; it’s part of life. There’s an old saying, ‘Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” says Andrés. Others are using the past to inform their future, like Top Chef alum Gregory Gourdet. “I plan on opening my own restaurant next year. It’ll tell the story of my culture — the Haitian-American diaspora — and offer a safe space for all. I want to do my part to help rebuild.”

Making Us … Cook for a Cause

Celebrity chefs such as Jacques Pépin, Tanya Holland, Marcus Samuelsson, and more have banded together to donate holiday recipes and accompanying instructional videos to Chefsgiving, a charity cookbook. Just $25 gets you access to all of the recipes, with all of the proceeds going to benefit first responders who battled the wildfires that raged across the western United States this year.

Making Us … Thankful

Previous Appetizers

November 13: Restaurant Holiday Takeout Is Next-Level This Year

October 20: SF Icon House of Prime Rib Reopens to 3,000 Reservations in One Day

September 18: Restaurants Think Outside the Takeout Box