The Coronavirus Delivery Pivot Is Already Coming to an End

I don’t think we as a society are fully grasping how fucking dire and dystopian this can get,” says Andy Ricker, the chef and owner of the Pok Pok restaurant group. In the week following Oregon’s March 17 order to shutter dining rooms statewide to slow the spread of COVID-19, five of Ricker’s seven Portland-area restaurants continued operating in a takeout or delivery capacity. But after chef Floyd Cardoz’s March 25 death from complications of COVID-19, a loss that Ricker described on Instagram as “an arrow to the heart,” he decided to close all of his restaurants. “We are food professionals,” he wrote. “We’re okay following health code, and being careful about spreading foodborne illnesses. But a deadly coronavirus? That’s just not something we’re trained to deal with. It just hit me: It’s better to close than to be open.”


Ricker joins a growing number of chefs and restaurant owners across the country who initially tried to make a go of takeout and/or delivery after many cities implemented social distancing or shelter-in-place plans, but have recently decided it was too risky for the health and safety of their workers, and are instead choosing to close entirely. Last week, Chicago’s One Off Hospitality Group announced it was closing its restaurants (which include Big Star and the Publican) due to safety concerns for staff and customers; in Houston, Ford Fry announced he was shutting down his restaurants for similar reasons. This week, Los Angeles’s Sqirl added to the chorus, writing on Instagram that the restaurant’s last day of service will be April 3. At suburban Detroit’s Eli Tea, Elias Majid made the tough decision to close his shop thanks in part to “customers not respecting distance,” he tells Eater. “One lady came in visibly sweating and coughing.” From a financial perspective, Majid had been doing well, as had many of the restaurant owners interviewed for this story. But it’s public health they’re more concerned about now.

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