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Balthazar Staffers Are Reportedly Fed Up With the Restaurant’s COVID-19 Response

Plus, One Fair Wage leads a protest in the East Village — and more intel

The entrance to Balthazar with a red awning.
The exterior of Balthazar.
Daniel Krieger/Eater

According to an investigation by Grub Street, employees of the acclaimed Keith McNally brasserie Balthazar are fed up with their work environment. Several employees told the publication yesterday that they felt the celebrity-studded restaurant isn’t keeping the employees safe during this recent omicron surge, nor is it allegedly being transparent about COVID-19 case counts. The report also alleges that managers are attempting to coerce employees to take shifts by offering free food in exchange.

Meanwhile, McNally took to Instagram yesterday to share a text he’d received from a manager commending staffers for filling in on their days-off. When one commenter called on McNally to offer free rapid testing for staffers, Grub Street reports that McNally, known for stirring the pot online, responded back, “fuck off.”

However, it seems the restaurateur has since changed his tune. After the piece went live yesterday, Balthazar announced that it would begin to offer weekly testing for employees at the restaurant starting on December 23.

A protest led by One Fair Wage descends on the East Village

AmNewYork reports that dozens of restaurant workers met yesterday outside of the East Village’s La Palapa — a restaurant in support of the protest — to demand higher wages at an especially vulnerable time in the industry. “Either Governor Hochul raises the wage or you’re gonna see a mass exodus the likes of which we have never seen, and this industry will not be able to reopen,” One Fair Wage co-founder Saru Jayaraman said at the protest. The rally comes on the heels of NYC restaurants scrambling to figure out how to react to the uptick of COVID-19 cases over the past week — with some temporarily shutting down and forcing their employees to go back on unemployment during the holiday season.

Jars of hot sauce from one of NYC’s most-talked-about pop-ups

Nuestra Mesa, a food-centric mutual aid group, is hosting a holiday CSA to raise funds for local relief efforts. Don’t skip out on hot sauces made in collaboration with the beloved Cambodian pop-up Kreung Cambodia, alongside the Caribbean-focused Kit an Kin, using ingredients from Star Route Farm. Hot sauces are available through an order form , with pick-up on December 23. Please note: hot sauces are while supplies lasts. Nuestra Mesa cannot guarantee hot sauces in every box.

Dame is doing a merch drop

The seafood spot that served up one of Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton’s best dishes of the year, is now getting into the merch game. Fans of the restaurant — which is currently closed through the holidays — can currently place an order on its website for a four-sleeve tote bag ($40), with room for wine, bread, and more. Orders will ship, or be available for pick-up, in February.

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