What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus and America’s Restaurants

Source: BrianAJackson / Getty Images

While the world struggles to contain the spread of COVID-19, there seem to be few areas of life that aren’t being dramatically — and at times devastatingly — impacted. One area that is being particularly hard hit is the restaurant industry. Chinese restaurants have been especially hard hit, with business down some 70% in New York City’s Chinatown alone — but they’re hardly the only ones.

Whether small independents or massive international chains, virtually every enterprise that serves food to the public is being forced in one way or another to confront the crisis engendered by the novel coronavirus. Here’s a look at the worst outbreaks of all time.

Many restaurants are simply adopting common-sense measures, as recommended in guidelines issued by such authorities as state and local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the National Restaurant Association — which has published restaurant-specific information on the coronavirus. Others have closed down, either voluntarily or responding to government mandates. Such closures might be just the beginning — one of the many ways in which the coronavirus will harm the GDP and businesses in 2020.

Drawing on news reports, restaurant websites, and email announcements, 24/7 Tempo has assembled examples of how the advent of COVID-19 has affected restaurants and restaurant groups around the country. As of Monday morning, the governors of Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Onio, Rhode Island, and Washington have issued a ban on in-restaurant dining across their states, permitting only takeout and delivery service. California is allowing restaurants to remain open, but requires that they reduce their seating by 50% to enable better social distancing.

The situation is extremely fluid, and more closings, both individual and city- or state-wide, are to be expected. The list below is far from complete even as it stands, but focuses on particularly well-known establishments and restaurant groups and on places that may be lesser-known but are taking unusual measures.