I spent most of the time during the COVID-19 pandemic (not to say that it’s not still going on), in NYC. While of course the government’s prioritization of citizens’ health was rightfully put first and foremost, the economic repercussions that so many small businesses suffered as a direct consequences of the closures was immense.
I know of countless restauranteurs and folks more generally working in the food business, who in some cases had to shut down their businesses completely. The food business to begin with, is a very difficult business to be in. Between the long hours; the incredibly high overhead; and the need to constantly satisfy customers, not to mention the government oversight and regulation, it can be an incredible challenge to do well. When adding the Kosher element, and all the headaches baked into running a Kosher establishment, running a Kosher establishment becomes a very burdensome task.
Then of course, you take into account the closures that such establishments naturally make for holidays and Shabbat. The amount of money they lose in the process is immense. And now we come to the coronavirus pandemic. For years to come, there will be commentators and historians analyzing all of the missteps our lawmakers and government officials made in mitigating the damage that the pandemic wrought; including their inability to prevent it from reaching our shores to begin with.
But the social distancing measures that were imposed led to lockdowns of many of these kosher restaurants; some of which had to shut down as a direct consequence. For some, the ability to merely provide food for their customers through delivery was not sufficient to cover their overhead and sustain their businesses. Now think of all the amazing hardworking folks that not only own these establishments, but also work there. They deserve our support.
Many of the kosher restaurants that are still open are still eagerly pursuing ways to get their balance sheets back to what they anticipated prior to the start of this pandemic. And then there are of course the more upscale restaurants like steakhouses who simply don’t deliver; and instead run their businesses based on entertaining their clientele within their facilities.
These businesses took a major hit during the pandemic. In speaking with the owners of some of these establishments, it seems that all they can count on at this point is communal support. Of course, we in the observant and traditional Jewish communities should always be seeking to patronize kosher establishments.
But in this post-coronavirus world, with all of the economic devastation that it has wrought on kosher restaurants (and others of course), the least that members of the community can do is make an extra effort to order from these establishments. If we want kosher food options in our communities, we have to do our part to support them and keep them open. Let’s also in the process provide some much needed chizuk and support to so many of these restaurant owners and their staffs who need it so badly. They deserve it . That much is for certain.