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The stories here display the courage, resiliency and generosity of those in the restaurant industry.

Restaurant operators share their stories of survival in unprecedented times

Dispatches from operators, leaders, employees who are at the front lines of the current health and political crises

Unplugging the nation’s economy, even temporarily, has had an astounding effect on independent restaurants across the country. For hundreds of thousands of restaurant operators out there, the coronavirus pandemic has been a period of extreme frustration, agonizing decisions, fear and stress.

But for many it has also been a time to embrace family and community, an opportunity for innovation and a chance to reset.

We wanted to hear your stories from the front lines, so we asked operators across the country to share dispatches from the front lines. We’re sharing them here and continuing to receive more.

Chefs and restaurateurs walked us through how they approached decisions with no right answers, and state and local guidelines still in flux. Some overhauled their business models to keep the doors open. Others decided to temporarily close entirely. Many were forced to cut staff and then rebuild. And operational practices must now include extensive safety protocols to protect both staff and guests.

We began this series in May to shine a light on our communities’ stories, and in July expanded our definition of “front lines.” The U.S. has faced renewed calls for social justice since the death of George Floyd, and the restaurant industry is stepping up efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion. For many, the pandemic pause has offered an opportunity to rethink how to create a more equitable workplace.

Operators and workers ultimately shared with us how they’re coping personally, and what future they see for their businesses and the industry.

The stories here display the courage, resiliency and generosity of those in the restaurant industry.

If you have a story you'd like to share, please e-mail Holly at [email protected].

Tinku Saini, Tarka Indian Kitchen

Brian Toll and John Terzian, The H.Wood Group

Scott Lawton, bartaco

Aaron Staudenmaier, Whiskey Cake

Falguni and Ali Dewjee, Bombay Wraps

John Secretan, Zinc Café & Market

Karl Franz Williams, 67 Orange Street, Anchor Spa

David Moo, quarter Bar

Ben Jacobs, Tocabe

Tom Bené, National Restaurant Association

Kevin Lillis, Jaxon 

Marc Glosserman, Hill Country Barbecue Market

Juan Padró, Culinary Creative

Eric Martino, ThinkFoodGroup

Kevin Lillis, Jackson

Shaun Garcia, Soby's

Aaron Deal, The River and Rail

Taylor Lanzet, Dig

Henry Rich, Oberson Group

Nick Kokonas, Alinea & Tock

Frank S. Vellucci, Sweetcatch Poke

Sean Fowler, Mandolin

Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod, Rasa

Elizabeth Blau, Blau Associates

Angie Kim, Interstellar

Nikky Phinyawatana, Asian Mint

John Winterman, Francie

Frank Ostini, The Hitching Post II Restaurant and Winery

Terry Pham, Fat Straws

Drew Ward, Artisanal Brewing Ventures

Brendan Vesey, Botanica Restaurant and Gin Bar

Shachi Mehra, ADYA

Matt Ensero, Wing it On!

Alan Sternberg, Common House Supper Club

Sam Marvin, Echo & Rig and Pluck

Mark Ellman, Honu and Frida’s Beach House

Andrew Faour, The Pub at Chino Hills

Matt Gottlieb and Robert Quick, il Bracco

Delores Tronco-DePierro, The Banty Rooster

Mario Marovic, Lounge Group

Veljko Pavicevic, Sails

TAGS: Coronavirus
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