For restaurants in the city choosing to stay open during the pandemic, there’s a high degree of risk involved for staff members who may commute to work on public transit and spend their days making deliveries around the city. To address the need for safe, reliable transportation during the novel coronavirus crisis, some transit companies have started to offer their services for free for restaurants on a temporary basis.
Revel — a New York-based moped share startup — has announced free transit partnerships with several local restaurants, including Italian spot Evelina in Fort Greene and Everyman Espresso near Union Square. Under the terms of the partnership, the restaurants get a free month of Revel membership to use the mopeds at any time to make deliveries, a partnership arranged by emailing the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to a spokesperson, the partnerships are open to any NYC restaurants that wish to join, and there’s no stipulations on any future membership commitment beyond the free month. The company plans to “re-evaluate its terms of service as the pandemic plays out,” the spokesperson says.
In a smaller partnership, high-end bicycle brand Cannondale is partnering with fine dining spot Eleven Madison Park and will lend a dozen bicycles to chef Daniel Humm’s staff for free so that they can get to work without using public transportation. The restaurant is currently open to produce free meals for New Yorkers in partnership with industry nonprofit Rethink Food. According to a spokesperson for Cannondale, the partnership is only open to Eleven Madison Park at this time due to Humm’s relationship with the brand as a former pro cyclist.
On the grocery front, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference on Wednesday, April 15 that the city of New York will be hiring taxi drivers and paying them to deliver groceries for free to vulnerable populations, including senior citizens — part of a new, $170 million food plan for the city.
Grocery delivery, once a convenience for most and now an essential for many, has been a problem for weeks in NYC, as delivery apps like Instacart have been inundated with orders during the COVID-19 crisis. Desperate customers have gone to extreme lengths to try and get food deliveries.
While some of the city’s restaurants push forward with offering delivery, takeout, and even groceries amid the pandemic, the decision to stay open is often coupled with fear over staff’s safety, especially when it comes to transportation.
Restaurants have reported staff anxiety over public health when taking the subway or bus to work, as well as fear for personal safety due to an uptick in reports of anti-Asian harassment across the city. Many restaurants have simply remain closed in part because employees haven’t felt comfortable coming into work.