Big Apple restaurants are slashing hours as they grapple with rampant crime and a chronic shortage of workers, industry insiders told Side Dish.
Last month, top chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten caused a stir when he opened six restaurants and six fast-food outlets inside the famed Tin Building at the South Street Seaport. But the building and its restaurants are only open four days a week, from noon to 9 p.m.
Even with reduced hours and days, the Tin Building is still without the employees it needs. Recent ads on social media show openings for “cooks, cook prep, chef de partie, pantry, butchers, bakers, pastry chefs, cake decorators and sous chefs”.
The Tin Building is not unusual. Restaurant owners surveyed by Side Dish say shorter weeks are a response to crime and inflation to labor shortages. And New Yorkers who have returned to work are often only in their offices two or three days a week.
“People just don’t go out as much and the late-night demand isn’t always there because of the crime factor. I don’t even feel safe walking around at 2am on a Sunday night. Do you? It’s like a ‘Matrix’ experience,” says nightlife baron Richie Romero.
Its 11,000-square-foot Nebula Club, the biggest new nightclub to open last year, is now open three nights a week – Tuesday, Friday and Saturday – with “one-offs” on some Thursdays. The rest of the time, the club only opens its doors for private events.
Fin and Scales, Romero’s new kosher sushi omakase restaurant at 10 E. 8th St., is open one night a week, while his other recently opened Sushi by Bou in Chelsea is open five nights a week. Then there’s Zazzy’s Pizza, which has three locations. It’s still open seven days a week — until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Lower East Side outpost, but turns off its ovens at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday.
“People have adjusted more to being home after COVID. They are in their offices two to three days a week instead of five, and it is difficult to staff the premises. There is less demand. People don’t move around as much. They stay home,” Romero said.
Some new restaurants that were trying to stay open seven days a week had to quickly scale back their operations.
When the Roam Sporting Club launched in Queens in February, it was open seven days a week. But during the summer, the upscale sports bar near Austin Street cut back to five days. Owner Manish Chadha tried to reopen for “Monday Night Football” this fall, but the cost was too high and “the streets of Forest Hills were very quiet”, he said.
By mid-September, the restaurant had dropped to five nights a week after discontinuing its weekday lunch service. Chadha said he doesn’t want to “fight the trend of nights beyond quiet” at the top of the week. He also tried to entice customers with discounted bar tabs during off-peak hours.
Ten Hope in Williamsburg is also feeling the pressure. When it launched in 2019, Ten Hope was open six days a week. Now it’s open four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, “to hug the ship and brave the coming winter,” owner Bill Zafiros said. It will also launch an incentive prize – $10 menus during dinner hours – to bring people in.
“We have always been crowded on weekends. It’s just much more efficient to simplify things and go where the demand is rather than keep banging my head against the wall trying to convince customers to come earlier in the week, especially during coming winter months,” Zafiros said.
Legendary cocktail artist Albert Trummer recently opened a very stylish lounge bar called DOM, for Domicile, in the famous United Charities Building under Hawksmoor, a British steakhouse, at 287 Park Avenue South.
It’s only open three days a week, Thursday through Saturday, due to staffing issues, and is also available for private events, said Trummer, who rose to prominence by founding hot spot Apotheke in Chinatown. .
“I’ve lost a lot of my staff during the pandemic, and it’s hard to find people who are highly skilled and sophisticated, and also willing to work the long hours in hospitality,” Trummer said.
The Austrian-born mixologist brings his special elixirs to DOM after selling Apotheke, where he served medicinal-style cocktails and pyrotechnic antics in the former opium den.
Most of the liqueurs come from its own eponymous line that uses herbs from the Austrian Alps to cure everything from common colds to dull libido.
As New York City enters the holiday season, it hopes to expand the hours and days of DOM, offering cocktails divided into categories Health and Beauty, Pain Relievers, Anti-Stress, Aphrodisiacs, Pharmaceuticals, Stimulants and Euphoric Reinforcers. .
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