COVID-19: Why Danny Meyer hasn't reopened his restaurants for indoor dining
Restaurant pioneer and founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer, says he is taking extra care to reopen his restaurants to indoor use as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
"We have decided not to go back indoors," Meyer told Yahoo Finance Live.
On Friday, indoor dining in New York City was expanded to 35% capacity. This corresponds to a capacity of 25% when indoor dining resumed in the city on Feb.12. With COVID-19 infections and deaths picking up again at the beginning of winter, Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped eating indoors on December 11, 2020. Only three months after the opening of the indoor meal with 25% capacity. Previous indoor eating has been banned since March 16, 2020.
"We'll wait until it gets just a little safer out there, until more and more of our team members have been vaccinated, and I also think until the weather is warmer to improve the outdoor dining," said Meyer. "It's just not a great recipe at the moment, but it will soon be and we're very excited to see where it goes."
Meyer runs 19 restaurants in New York City, including well-known names like Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Danny Meyer attends the 2019 Time 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Meyer - also the founder of Shake Shack - wasted no time in the past year addressing the new realities of his business amid the pandemic. In mid-March 2020, Meyer was one of the first at the restaurant to lay off workers with minimal income and occupational safety concerns. These included a total of around 2,000 people between the restaurants and the company headquarters.
When Yahoo Finance last spoke to Meyer on October 9, 2020, Meyer said he had reopened iconic New York restaurants Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, and Blue Smoke for indoor dining (25% capacity max) after indoor dining briefly reopened on September 30th. Meyer mentioned that he had installed new air filter systems in the restaurants.
In addition to his tireless efforts to make sure his restaurants show up on the other side of the pandemic, Meyer has made the decision to join the SPAC frenzy.
Meyer has teamed up with Adam Sokoloff (Managing Partner of Asgard Capital Partners) and Tiffany Daniele (CFO of Union Square Hospitality Group) to launch the USHG acquisition. The SPAC raised $ 250 million and is looking for companies that reflect Meyer's enlightened hospitality business philosophy.
Brian Sozzi is an editor and presenter at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.
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