Helping Out

25 Reasons Why We’re Thankful For the Restaurant Industry in the Year 2020

By

2020 will be remembered as the year that the restaurant industry fought for its life. A year that saw the closing of nationally acclaimed restaurants with Michelin stars, as well as small local haunts cherished by their immediate neighbors. Although the fight for survival is nowhere near done, now is a time to pay tribute. Because even in a year that saw so much devastation, there was also so much grace, resilience, and ingenuity. It was proof that restaurants are built on taking care of others — and not even a pandemic could stop that.

We’ve been thankful for every restaurant that has tried to keep going this year. But we wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to a handful of restaurants, industry folks, and grassroots initiatives that went above and beyond, helping their communities in the most unprecedented of times. They reminded us, despite everything, what hospitality is all about.

 

  1. We’re thankful for Heart of Diner, a community grassroots initiative that delivers care packages of hot meals (cooked by neighboring restaurants) and handwritten letters to elderly Asian New Yorkers, who’ve been isolated in senior housing developments throughout the pandemic. // New York

  2. Thankful for the creation of the McAtee Community Kitchen, which provides support in the shape of meals, groceries, and supplies to families in need across Louisville, in honor of community leader and barbecue man David “Ya Ya” McAtee // Louisville, KY

  3. Thankful for the London Restaurant Cooperative, which was formed during lockdown by former staff at restaurants Le Bab and Maison Bab, to feed vulnerable Londoners at the start of the pandemic, as well as providing work and income for at-risk restaurant workers. // London

  4. Thankful for the SF New Deal movement, which works with restaurants like Nari, Mourad, The Morris, Mister Jiu’s, Hawker Fare, Uma Casa, Rich Table, Prubechu, and many more to prepare and deliver meals to San Franciscans in need. // San Francisco

  5. Thankful for No Us Without You, a charity that provides food security to the backbone of the industry: undocumented back of house restaurant workers, who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, even though they’re taxed on every paycheck. // Los Angeles

    Head chef Nikkia Rhodes and the LEE Initiative co-founder Edward Lee preparing meals at the McAtee Community Kitchen. // Photo by Josh Meredith

     

  6. Thankful for grocery stores like H-E-B, which immediately tried to find ways to help out local restaurants in the wake of the pandemic. // Texas

  7. Thankful for small neighborhood restaurants like 886, FieldTrip, Ho Foods, and Raku that mobilized to donate crowdfunded hot meals to New York frontline hospital workers at the height of the pandemic. // New York

  8. Thankful for Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice, a coalition that was created to raise money to benefit Black communities in the South. // The Southeast

  9. Thankful for Reem Assil of Reem’s CA for her continued ascension as a leader for the national restaurant industry. // Oakland, CA

  10. Thankful for chef and owner Erik Bruner-Yang, who provided immediate financial relief to small neighborhood restaurants when they needed it the most, thanks to his crowdfunded initiative, the Power of 10. // Washington, DC
    Chef Erik Bruner-Yang boxing meals for Washington Hospital Central at Cane // Photo Courtesy Foreign National

     

  11. Thankful for chef-owners like Irene Li, who are committed to making the restaurant industry more transparent and better for all. // Boston

  12. Thankful for Brandon Jew for becoming a leader in his community and urging Chinese American restaurants to know their worth. // San Francisco

  13. Thankful for organizations like Welcome to Chinatown and Send Chinatown Love, that were launched to help out local Chinatown businesses when they were hit first and hardest. // New York

  14. Thankful for DeliverAid, which supported many out-of-work and struggling restaurants, caterers, and cafés by enlisting them to help feed frontline NHS workers (UK National Health Service) in the wake of the pandemic. // London

  15. Thankful to chef-owners like Chris Williams, who are doing all they can to help out their local communities right now, whether through donated meals or as pop-up hosts. // Houston

    Lucille’s has donated thousands of meals to local hospitals and assisted living facilities in Houston since the pandemic began. // Photo Courtesy Lucille’s

     

  16. Thankful for restaurants like Golden Diner, Saigon Social, Kopitiam, and others who banded together to help each other out by encouraging diners to dine around at each of them. // New York

  17. Thankful for nonprofit organizations like La Cocina that are still finding ways to help low-income food entrepreneurs, especially now. // San Francisco

  18. Thankful for the pop-ups that are keeping us well-fed when every day feels like Groundhog Day, but also giving chefs an opportunity to express themselves like they might never have been able to before. // Everywhere

  19. Thankful for restaurants like Chick ‘n’ Sours, Patty & Bun, 12:51, Manteca, Trullo, and many more for stepping up and making sure kids don’t go hungry over the school holidays, when the government voted against an extension to free school meals. // London

  20. Thankful for Gertie, which has made doing good part of its DNA, preparing over 1,500 meals per week for New Yorkers in need in partnership with Rethink Food and City Harvest NYC, and hosting weekly RAD (Restaurants Advocating for Democracy) pop-ups, benefiting Fair Fight Action. // New York

    At Dame, owners Patricia Howard (second from left) and chef Ed Szymanski (fourth from right) invited Tío Rey (far left) and his family for a tacos and tamales pop-up this summer. // Photo Courtesy Dame

     

  21. Thankful for Nok Suntaranon and the rest of the Kalaya team, for offering free “Phamily Meals” and inspiring restaurants to donate produce going to waste due to the shutdown, and put it to a purpose: feeding anyone in need, whether they be healthcare workers or out-of-work industry peers.  // Philadelphia

  22. Thankful for Pay It Forward Charleston and Butcher & Bee, which are providing emergency assistance to the Charleston Food & Beverage community. // Charleston

  23. Thankful for the Suerte team for always looking after their own, and fighting for social justice initiatives in the most delicious ways — whether it be a chef taco series with proceeds going to Jolt Action, or a chef collaboration benefitting local charities. // Austin

  24. Thankful for the Pasjoli team, which facilitated a raffle that was able to donate over $100,000 to Black Lives Matter-related causes in LA. // Los Angeles

  25. Thankful for neighborhood restaurants like Wayla and Short Stories, which are feeding their communities with pay-what-you-wish lunch boxes and groceries. // New York

    Wayla’s pay-what-you-wish Lunchbox 4 Neighbors. // Photo Courtesy Wayla

Discover More


The Rundown

Everything You Need to Know About Panorama Room, Now Open on Roosevelt Island

Guides

The Resy Guide to Pre and Post-Theatre Dining in London

Resy Lineup

The Resy Lineup: Halloweekend Events, a New Speakeasy, and Miss Lily’s in Soho Is Back!

Interviews

Gunpowder Proves Soho Has Still Got It. But For Harneet Baweja, Challenges Remain

The Rundown

Welcome to Semma, the Latest Hit From the Same Team Behind Dhamaka and Adda

Guides

Where To Enjoy Outstanding Seafood in Sydney

The Rundown

Five Things to Know About JoJo’s Beloved Cocktail Lounge in Midtown

Horses

The Rundown

Everything You Need to Know About Horses, Now Open in Hollywood

New on Resy

New on Resy: Tigre Tacos, Trattoria Brutto, Gunpowder Soho, and More

Resy Spotlight

Nashville’s White Limozeen Is a Beacon of Bright Pink Hope

Guides

The Resy Guide to New York’s New Pasta Guard

Resy Lineup

The Resy Lineup: A Guest Chef Series, Sleeper Hit Cocktails, and Starr Restaurants’ Hot New Opening

The Rundown

Five Things You Need to Know About Abacá, in Fisherman’s Wharf