Restaurant Survival After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How will the COVID-19 crisis transform the restaurant industry? Dirt Candy chef and owner Amanda Cohen and host Billy Shore discuss how restaurants will survive the pandemic. Cohen says she and other chefs are struggling with reopening their restaurants after the crisis has passed. “How are we going to reopen? What am I reopening to? Who is going out? Who still has money to go out in this city? And who wants to go to a crowded restaurant?,” she asks.

She also stresses that the pandemic has clearly shown that the traditional business model for restaurants does not provide enough for workers. “If our workers need charity so badly, maybe owners weren’t doing this right in the first place,” wrote Cohen in a March 26th New York Times Op-Ed. She believes that the restaurant industry needs to make some changes to support higher wages and health insurance for its workers. “If we reopen the same way as we closed, we will have literally learned nothing,” she says.

Join us for this critical discussion about the future of the restaurant industry.

Resources and Mentions:

Amanda Cohen

Amanda Cohen

James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Dirt Candy restaurant in New York City. After graduating from the Natural Gourmet Cookery School, she worked at Angelica’s Kitchen, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and Blanche’s Organic Café before opening Dirt Candy. Cohen was the first vegetarian chef to compete on Iron Chef: America and she is one of the Iron Chefs on Iron Chef: Canada. Her comic book cookbook, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, is the first graphic novel cookbook to be published in North America.

Dirt Candy

The first vegetable-focused restaurant in the city and is a pioneer of the vegetable-forward movement. It was the first restaurant in the city to eliminate tipping and share profits with its employees. Dirt Candy is included in Paul Freedman’s Ten Restaurants That Changed America as “Ten Restaurants Changing America Now.” It became the first vegetarian restaurant in 17 years to receive two stars from the New York Times, was recognized by the Michelin Guide five years in a row and won awards from Gourmet Magazine, the Village Voice, and many others. In 2018, New York Magazine named Dirt Candy “The Absolute Best Restaurant on the Lower East Side” and Wine Enthusiast selected it as one of the 100 Best Wine Restaurants in America.

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