Some of the biggest names in the restaurant world—Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer and Momofuku’s David Chang—have announced they’re temporarily shutting down their restaurants in response to the coronavirus crisis. Now DC’s most famous chef, José Andrés, is following suit.
Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup will close all of DC-area and New York restaurants beginning March 15 until further notice. Starting March 17, some of the them will transform into “community kitchens” that offer affordable or free to-go lunches for those in need as part of a nationwide effort from his emergency-relief organization, World Central Kitchen.
People of America…Important News: All my restaurants in DC area are closed until further notice. Here at @ThinkFoodGroup safety of employees & guests is too priority. Some restaurants will transform into Community Kitchens to offer to-go lunches for those who need a meal. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/3HTyT607ZI
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) March 15, 2020
Andrés called on other restaurants to follow his lead. “We are in an unprecedented emergency…and as painful as it is, ALL restaurants, bars, etc. must be closed across America if we are to avoid what’s happening in other countries. This is the only way,” he tweeted.
The company will continue to pay every employee for the next two weeks and is trying to figure out what it can do beyond that.
The Washington restaurants turning into community kitchens include America Eats Tavern, Zaytinya, Oyamel, and the three locations of Jaleo. (Andrés’s Spanish diner, Mercado Little Spain, in New York will as well.) The restaurants will be open daily from noon to 5 and operate out of their side doors, or back upstairs patio in the case of Georgetown’s America Eats Tavern.
Locations of fast-casual Beefsteak will offer delivery only, and flauta food truck Pepe will remain open. Avant-garde tasting room Minibar and adjoining Barmini are closed. Rebookings and refunds will be available for those with existing reservations.
However, Andrés is not closing all of his own restaurants, many of which are partnerships with hotels and casinos, at this time. His restaurants in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, and South Beach plus Jaleo Disney remain open for now.
World Central Kitchen has already been involved in coronavirus response efforts. The nonprofit provided meals to people quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan as well as the Grand Princess in California.
CORRECTION: This story initially stated that Andrés would close all of his restaurants. In fact, only DC-area and New York restaurants are closing as of now.