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Many owners of sit-down restaurants and bars — juggling health risks against the bottom line — are trying to mitigate the hardships created by the coronavirus.
With business at many city restaurants off by 25% to 30%, operators have taken to social media to assure the public that they have been taking extra steps to boost hygiene.
Lucky Well in Ambler and Warrington now gives out single-use paper menus. Blackbird Pizzeria in Northern Liberties has stopped dine-in service altogether. Love & Honey Fried Chicken in Northern Liberties has restarted its delivery arrangement with Caviar. White Dog Cafe in Haverford is offering curbside pickup.
The bar Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown has removed 40% of its tables, dropping capacity from 50 people to 30 and eliminating all bar seats. Further, said the enigmatic owner, who goes by Lê, the Hop Sing staff will vote after closing time Saturday, March 14 on whether to stay open. Lê, who cultivates a persona indicating he is a high-ranking official in North Korea, said, “This is one of the few times the [communist] party will not interfere with the will of the people.”
Estia in Center City, which had 80 patrons on a day that ordinarily would see 450, is taking pains to seat people far apart. “There’s no need to remove tables,” co-owner Anastasia Pashalis said. “We’re so slow.”
Meanwhile, Reading Terminal Market’s decision to stay open has drawn mixed reviews, with many online commenters chiding management for potentially exposing thousands to the virus squaring off against those who believe that the fresh food for sale provides a necessary service. The market also offers home delivery.
The restaurant scene in New York City seems more dire after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered all restaurants that seated 500 customers or fewer to halve their capacity and make more space between tables. The next day, Danny Meyer temporarily closed his 19 restaurants and Gotham Bar & Grill announced it was closing permanently after 36 years.
Update: Hop Sing Laundromat has closed.