New York state is now thinking about a reopening strategy with signs that the state is beyond the peak of the COVID-19 crisis — and of 100 people on an advisory committee that will guide the reopening, there are several NYC-based restaurateurs on the list.
Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer and Tren’ness Woods-Black, the Harlem restaurateur and owner of iconic soul food spot Sylvia’s are both on the committee. Also on the list is Andrew Rigie, the president of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents thousands of restaurants across the city.
They are among more than 100 business, community, and civic leaders from across the state that will provide feedback and guidance to the government as it begins reopening in phases over the next few months. Other NYC dining and hospitality industry professionals on the list include Vijay Dandapani, the president of the Hotel Association of NYC, a trade group that represents hundreds of hotels in the city, and Elizabeth Peralta, the CEO of Flushing-based organization National Supermarket Association, which represents independent supermarket owners in the state and along the East Coast.
There’s also a small group of other food-business owners from across the state on the list. Details on how the advisory board will work are scarce at the moment, but it appears that they will guide the phased re-opening of the state. More than 5,200 construction sites have reopened in the state so far, and the governor has indicated that construction and manufacturing workers will be the first to return to work.
The rest of the reopening will take place based on how each region in the state is doing in its efforts to overcome the virus. New York City, which has been the worst hit, may open later than other parts of the city; of the 17,638 statewide deaths, more than 12,000 are in NYC.
It’s not yet clear how restaurants factor into the reopening strategy and what phase of reopening they will be a part of it. Cuomo says that businesses with an inherent low risk of infection in the workplace will return first, followed by those that might pose a higher risk, though he did not clarify which businesses fell in each category.
California’s phased reopening strategy may provide some indication. There, restaurants are included in phase two of the reopening strategy, but Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t provided specific dates for that yet. Dining establishments will have to reconfigure for curbside pickups and limited physical interaction in California.
One option under consideration in NYC is having restaurant seating on closed public streets to allow for better social distancing, but talks for that are still in the early stages.
Meyer and Woods-Black did not return requests for comment at the time of publication but Rigie says he was “honored,” to be appointed to the board. “Re-opening the restaurant and nightlife industry will require a comprehensive set of policies that support businesses during the immediate crisis and throughout the recovery period, while protecting public health,” he tells Eater in a statement.
Here is a full list of dining and hospitality industry folks that are on the advisory board:
- Danny Meyer, restaurateur CEO Union Square Hospitality Group.
- Tren’ness Woods-Black, owner of Harlem soul food restaurant Sylvia’s.
- Andrew Rigie, the president of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a group that represents thousands of restaurants in the city.
- Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, a business improvement group that represents several restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown among other businesses.
- Vijay Dandapani, CEO of the Hotel Association of NYC, which represents hundreds of hotels in the city.
- Sonya Del Peral, the manager of Albany-based cider brewery Nine Pin Ciderworks.
- Sabrina HoSang Jordan, the CEO of Tappan, NY-based frozen food business Caribbean Food Delights, Inc.
- Elizabeth Peralta, the executive director of the National Supermarket Association, a Flushing-based group that represents independent grocery stores in New York, and along the East Coast.
- Erin Tolefree, the executive vice president of Baldwin Richardson Foods, an upstate producer of syrups, fillings, and sauces for restaurants.
- Peter Ward, President of NY Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, a union that includes hotel workers in New York and Northern New Jersey.
- Nicole Wegman, senior vice president of grocery chain Wegmans, which has one location in Brooklyn and several in the state.
- Kyle Bragg, the president of SEIU 32BJ, a labor union that covers some food workers like school cafeteria workers.
- Wes Moore, the CEO of the Robin Hood foundation, a charitable organization that works with food donation groups like City Harvest.