They survived Hurricane Sandy, 9/11 and even the 1918 Spanish flu. Now New York’s oldest and most storied restaurants, bars and cafes are struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Naysayers feared that the city was on the cusp of losing its most beloved eateries when COVID-19 shuttered restaurants. After all, 87 percent of NYC bars and restaurants couldn’t pay rent in August and more than half of US restaurant closures are now permanent due to the coronavirus. And even though 25 percent capacity indoor dining returns on Wednesday, many still worry that the reopening phases are too little too late.
But these institutions are nothing if not resilient: Neir’s Tavern in Queens, age 190, almost closed earlier this year, but has forged a renaissance with outdoor seating. The oldest restaurant in Chinatown, which just turned 100, Nom Wah Tea Parlor pivoted to frozen dumpling sales while closed. And 101-year-old Arthur Avenue staple Mario’s is now helmed by the next generation after owner Joseph Migliucci passed away from COVID-19.
Turns out that after enduring a century or more of ups and downs, the city’s most enduring restaurants are also its most adaptable. Here’s how eight historic mainstays have kept serving New Yorkers despite the hardships of the last seven months.
Fraunces Tavern, established 1762
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