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USHG’s Danny Meyer Says Some of His Restaurants Likely Won’t Open Until There’s a COVID-19 Vaccine

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Plus, Brooklyn wine bar LaLou is bringing back its cellar sale this weekend — and more intel

Union Square Cafe’s dining room has a wooden bar, wooden chairs with dark leather seats, and stairs that go up toward another level
The dining room at Union Square Cafe
Nick Solares/Eater
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Some USHG restaurants may stay closed until there’s a readily-available COVID-19 vaccine

Restaurateur Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group might not open some of the company’s restaurants until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, Bloomberg reports.

The restaurateur, known for longstanding NYC dining hits like Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern, says that a restricted restaurant reopening in the city — similar to what is already underway in cities like Atlanta and Dallas — holds no appeal to him. It will be difficult to turn a profit on a dining room that can only operate at 50 percent capacity or less, according to Meyer, and the dining experience itself will be a far cry from what customers were used to pre-pandemic.

“We won’t be welcoming guests into our full-service restaurants for a very long time — probably not until there’s a vaccine,” Meyer told Bloomberg. “There is no interest or excitement on my part to having a half-full dining room while everyone is getting their temperature taken and wearing masks, for not much money.”

Meyer didn’t specify which restaurants would likely stay shuttered until a vaccine is produced, but noted that the dining restrictions work more easily for fast casual restaurants where sit-down meals aren’t expected. Full service restaurants like Union Square Cafe will be more difficult to operate.

In line with that thinking, USHG’s counter service cafe Daily Provisions is eyeing opening for takeout service next week, with pizza spot Marta to follow. These restaurants were already developing takeout and delivery programs before the shutdown, Meyer says, and they are more conducive to operating only in a to-go format.

Other prominent NYC restaurateurs recently expressed their own concerns about a restricted reopening in a call with Mayor Bill de Blasio. One of the worst economic scenarios, they say, would be getting stuck in a cycle of reopening and shutting back down if the virus were to spread again.

Experts have estimated that the earliest timeframe for developing and mass-producing a vaccine may be January 2021.

In other news

— New grocery delivery service is filling a need for fresh Asian produce available online and delivered promptly across the city.

— Amazon is reportedly considering buying up more Fairway grocery stores, including locations in Queens, Long Island, and Harlem.

— How NYC restaurants are getting creative and forging ahead with openings that were planned before the COVID-19 crisis.

— Brooklyn wine bar LaLou is bringing back its cellar sale on Saturday, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. All wines are 50 percent off; discounted prices are reflected on the bar’s online bottle list. The shop is accepting pre-orders at

— Astoria’s Bel Aire Diner launched a drive-in movie theater in the restaurant’s parking lot. Movies are announced ahead of time on Bel Aire’s Instagram account.

— Williamsburg natural wine bar the Four Horsemen has reopened for delivery, from Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is selling wine, beer, cocktails, ready-to-eat meals, and pantry items like house-made granola, chili oil, and miso-sesame chocolate chip cookie dough.

— Restaurateurs and chefs Victor Rallo and Dave Pasternack pushed ahead with the grand opening for new sports bar Navy Pier and Taproom, located in Staten Island’s troubled waterfront development Urby.

— In the East Village, Ruffian and Black Emperor Bar are back in business for takeout and delivery starting this weekend. The full food and drink menu is online. Operating hours in the beginning will be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. There’s a $25 minimum on orders placed through the website; a takeout window will also be up and running for on-site orders at Black Emperor.

— Union Square’s British-style pub the Winslow is back open this weekend for window service. Visit the bar from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 243 E. 14 Street, between Second and Third Avenues, and see a full menu of its food and drink offerings on Instagram.

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