As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread with an increasing speed across the globe, New York City is experiencing the sweeping and unprecedented mass closures of businesses, institutions, and cultural spaces across its five boroughs. The museums are dark, the streets quiet, and the theatre district, typically a hub of activity on any given night, is still.
For many Theatre District restaurants, the shutdowns and coronavirus panic have meant temporary closures, with an increasing uncertainty around when—or if—they’ll be able to reopen again. Those that are able to have opted to remain open exclusively for pickup and delivery, though the drastically reduced business cannot begin to match the companies’ ongoing expenses, including rent, insurance, and sales tax—all of which continue to pile up despite the pandemic.
“We’re trying to keep ourselves busy and serve the community," says Steve Olsen, the owner of the West Bank Cafe and Laurie Beechman Theatre, a Theatre District mainstay for 42 years. "This hasn’t even kicked in yet. When 9/11 happened, we started serving again on September 12.”
Olsen, who is offering curbside pickup and free delivery to Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, has been personally driving orders as far as Tribeca for some of his most loyal customers. "There's a shared history there," says Olsen. "We’re bracing ourselves for the worst, but we’re out there for the theatre community and our neighbors."
And then there are the waitstaff, kitchen staff, and hospitality workers, many of whom also work in the arts and theatre space as well, who have suddenly found themselves without work or pay. Each and everyone of them contributes to the Broadway landscape.
"Theatre people like to have a good time—and the neighborhood restaurants are throwing the party," says Jason Woodruff, a photographer and long-time theatre district bartender. "Locals and Broadway fans who make it their mission to visit New York City every year—area restaurants become a small but indelible part of their Broadway experience."
"For others, it’s business," continues Woodruff. "Producers have meetings in these restaurants; writers make pitches; designers discuss concepts; and reporters do interviews." Having worked behind the bar at Joe Allen's for 18 years, Woodruff has also served his fair share of casts and crews after curtain call—he too is a part of the Broadway community reeling from the mass closures.
"The majority of restaurants in the Theatre District are small operations. They’re paying last month’s bills with this month’s revenue, only there is no this month," he says. "There may not even be a next month or a month after... Everyone is feeling the hurt, and it’s now time to take care of those closest to us."
In an effort to help the people who contribute to Broadway—in a slightly different way—Playbill has put together a list of Theatre District restaurants open for pickup or delivery, as well as crowd-sourcing campaigns aiming to provide relief for employees. If you’re in a position to do so, please consider showing your support to the below.
THEATRE DISTRICT RESTAURANTS OFFERING PICKUP AND/OR DELIVERY (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER):
- Añejo Hell's Kitchen is providing delivery and takeout—including margaritas—via Toast.
- ChaPa's Noodles and Grill is offering food and drinks to go, as well as free delivery via UberEats.
- Etcetera Etcetera Restaurant is open for contactless deliveries to Midtown West, Midtown/Uptown East, Upper West Side, Chelsea, and Soho, as well as for pick up. Call (212) 399-4141 to place an order.
- Friedmans on 47th Street is offering takeout and delivery. Call (646) 876-1232 or place an order online.
- Khave Coffee locations on 9th and 10th Avenue is offering local delivery and pick-up. Click here for more information.
- The Meatball Shop locations, including its Hell's Kitchen restaurant on 9th Avenue, are open for contact-free takeout (online or phone orders only) and delivery through online orders.
- Mexicue is open for pickup and delivery for all three of its New York locations, including Bryant Park.
- The Palm is open for pickup and delivery from its West 50th Street location.
- Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is open for pickup from its West 51st Street location and for free delivery via TryCaviar.
- Souvlaki GR is providing contact-free delivery online.
- Sticky's Finger Joint is offering pickup and contact-free delivery online from its nine NYC locations, including 9th Avenue.
- Tony's DiNapoli is open for pickup and deliveries for lunch and dinner. Call (212) 888-6333 or order online.
- West Bank Cafe is open for curbside pickup and free local delivery (Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea) 1 PM–7 PM Thursday–Saturday. There is $15 minimum, cash only. Call (212) 695-6909
If you operate a Theatre District restaurant and wish to be included on either of these lists, email us here.