Category Archives: Restaurants

Pandemic Help for Local Restaurants

As we know, eateries were one of the businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.  Many of them didn’t survive, despite federal aid.  Some are still struggling tremendously.   In New York, commitments are now underway to try to offer assistance in the hope that restaurants will be able to get through the pandemic.

New York State has just launched the New York State’s $35 million Restaurant Return-to-Work Tax Credit Program as part of the New York State FY 2022 Budget.  This was put in place as a way to create more jobs and offer relief to the restaurants severely impacted by the pandemic. 

Basically there will be a tax credit to encourage large scale and fast hiring of restaurant workers. For those restaurants that qualify for the aid, this translates into up to $5,000 tax credit for each new hire, up to $50,000 in tax credits for each business.   

On this new initiative Governor Cuomo said:

“New York’s restaurants are not only the best in the world, they are vital to the state’s economy, employing thousands of people and showcasing cuisines that reflect our great diversity. Restaurants also serve as an entrepreneurial outlet and are often families’ gateways to the American Dream. The restaurant industry was among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health and safety concerns restricted many of its service operations. With the state’s COVID-19 restrictions lifted, restaurants opening to full capacity, and tables filling up, this will support the much-needed hiring of workers by these establishments to meet their increased demand.” 

Brooklyn cocktail bar and restaurant co-owner Ivy Mix shared her experiences with CBS.  She said

“The last few months have been very promising, after a year and a half of going into the red. Now it’s, ‘Oh god, is this going to be it?’ again. Last night was one of the worst nights we’ve had in months, and it was a beautiful night. “It’s worrying — if that’s forever, if that’s my next year.”

This was just after the CDC’s reports about the severity of the Delta variant and how it was raging through the nation. 

New York Tri-State Black Restaurant Week

This year’s New York Tri-State Black Restaurant Week takes place between November 13 to November 22.  Founded in 2016, the idea behind the week-long events is to promote and celebrate the flavors and cultures of African, African-American and Caribbean foods.  This is the first year that New York has participated. 

This year, Café Moca is one of the eateries participating.  Located in Queens it is a vegan eatery run by co-owner Jennypher Urena.   Campaign Managing Partner Falayn Ferrell said:

“We learned a long time ago that Black food is more than soul food. It’s more than barbecue. We are always impressed with the creativity we see when it comes to food in our communities.  [Plus] the Black culinary landscape is so diverse. We have everything from Italian to Caribbean. If you are just a diehard foodie, there’s something for you to eat.”

Over 125 businesses – including bakeries, caterers and food trucks – are participating in this year’s NY event.

Catering Industry Coping with Coronavirus

Catering – like the entire hospitality industry – has been hit hard by the COVID-19 global pandemic.  So how are local businesses coping with this?  We take a look at a few firms: Poppy’s, Marcia Selden Catering, Dish Food & Events and Naturally Delicious.

Jamie Erickson of Poppy’s has moved over to local farm grocery sales and away from catering.  Marcia Selden Catering is still providing foods for birthday parties, albeit virtual ones.  In fact, they had one “virtual birthday party” in which they provided cocktails and double chocolate cakes along with a virtual karaoke MC. According to Marcia Selden Catering’s Managing Partner Jeffrey Selden, they have to just contend with whatever situation they are faced with.

It seems like the biggest need right now is home delivery so one has to consider what works better being reheated and move away from fancy presentation. As a result the menus have changed as has the packaging.  So Dish Food & Events for example is now offering lasagna, meatloaf and rotisserie chickens over colorful hors d’oeuvres.

Snacks, dips and enchiladas are being used in place of homemade pretzels and other firms are trying out meal packages with a set minimum.  Another firm – Naturally Delicious – is now offering provision boxes containing meats, cheeses, wine and beer for delivery.

When Cheesecake Becomes “Everything”

If you’re looking for the best of the best in your New York cheesecake, apparently these days if you find yourself in NYC, then there is no place better than Manhattan’s Madison Avenue’s Eleven Madison Park.

At first,  it appears that you’ve ordered something not particularly out of the ordinary; simply a slice of classic NY cheesecake.  But forget the sweet; this is something entirely different as you will find as you first dig in. Which was perhaps what made the EMP (the name given to the restaurant by those “in the know”) its fine dining reputation.

Remember the firs time we indulged in the “everything” bagel?  How did we feel?  Well, take that to the next level and you may have the stirrings of understanding of the cheesecake from EMP.  Simply put, it is described here as:

“cream cheese contains pureed white asparagus, which renders it both complex and delicate. Atop the cheesecake are thinly sliced layers of smoked sturgeon – a mainstay in New York delicatessens – and a heaping of caviar. Then there are the condiments: pickled daikon radish and pickled white asparagus, each served in ornamental caviar tins. A mussel-and-sturgeon sauce offsets the richness of the course with a light saltiness.”

So it’s perhaps not surprising that when you Google it you’ll just find 4.5 star ratings from Trip Advisor and ExploreTock and that it has earned the Number 1 spot on the World’s 50th Best Restaurants!