What's life during lockdown like for one of the world's top restaurateurs? How is he serving his community? And how does he stay positive?
Straight Talk with Wine Spectator is a new Instagram series sponsored by Wine Access, featuring live conversations with wine-and-food newsmakers. The chats kicked off early last month amid widespread shutdowns from the COVID-19 crisis, in order to shed light on the changes and challenges these industries are facing.
In the May 14 edition, restaurateur Danny Meyer opened up to Wine Spectator executive editor Thomas Matthews about life in lockdown, the state of the industry, and what’s in the works at his New York–based Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). “The thing that we’re the best at, which is gathering people, is the thing that we’re not supposed to do right now,” Meyer shared over a glass of Vocoret & Fils Chablis.
Meyer said the venue he’ll likely reopen first will be Daily Provisions, his fast-casual all-day café, which doesn’t depend on reservations or seated tables and already has a to-go model in place. “It’s also comfort food, which I think is what people want right now,” he said. Regarding USHG’s seated restaurants, such as Wine Spectator Grand Award winner the Modern, “It’s going to be a while before it’s safe enough to do that.”
“The three things we’ve been focused on have been, for now: Stay safe, stay home and stay in contact,” said Meyer, who’s been hosting weekly online video chats with his entire displaced team. Meyer also revealed that his group has been working on alternative ways to serve the community, like delivering wine or boxes of groceries from hurting suppliers, and he’s “very, very hopeful” that a program like that will kick off “in the coming weeks.”
Underscoring the whole conversation was his earnest sense of hope. “We are irrepressible in our desire to gather, and the minute that that’s safe to do it, we’re going to be there.”