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NYC Restaurant Workers Rush to Get Vaccinated As Eligibility Opens

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

New York’s Yankee Stadium Hosts Major Coronavirus Vaccination Site
A vaccination center at Yankee Stadium in New York
Photo by Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

This post originally appeared on February 6, 2021 in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

Yesterday, while buying bread at my favorite local restaurant-turned-grocer, I asked the owner if she had any fun weekend plans, kind of a dark joke at this point since few of us really do anything. Turns out she and her whole staff are getting vaccinated today.

A few hours earlier I had emailed a different restaurateur asking if he’d be around tonight because I’ll be in his neighborhood, and he said he was taking the day off to get his vaccine. Then last night, scrolling Instagram I saw vaccine selfies from the owners of Dame and Té Company and comments about confirmed appointments for the full staff at Crown Shy and an owner of Contra.

Hundreds of thousands of restaurant workers are newly eligible for the vaccine in New York City, a concession from our governor when pushed on how he could open restaurants for indoor dining without extending protections.

Interestingly, New York City is one of the last major areas outside of California to reopen indoor dining but is one of the first (alongside Detroit) to open up vaccine access. I had predicted Nevada would be the first state to extend vaccines to hospitality workers, given Las Vegas’ reliance on the industry. But they are still waiting. Chicago is expecting March 29, D.C. later in February, Colorado sometime next month.

I’m glad to at least see some recognition that these workers are on the front lines of this pandemic in so many ways, interacting with customers in person, waiting on people without masks, working in cramped kitchens. How long it will take them all to actually get shots in their arms, given the slow rollout, and how equitable the access will be is another story.

But I was heartened to see this progress yesterday — and to hear owners are booking appointments for their full staffs, not just themselves. I hope actions like that will help us get to a place where undocumented porters are getting shots at the same rates as GMs and owners (and people who will inevitably game the system).

For more information on the vaccine rollout, check out NYC’s Vaccine Command Center. Or reach out to chef Tracy Wilk at, who has committed to helping restaurant folk find vaccine appointments via this form.

On Eater

— The latest from the health experts on whether or not we should be dining inside and / or outside.

— The Senate voted against raising the minimum wage but approved a path to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan. Meanwhile the restaurant industry lost another 19,400 jobs last month.

— Amazon agreed to pay $62 million to settle FTC charges that the company pocketed the tips of its drivers delivering Whole Foods groceries and other items.

— Restaurant owners are petitioning Minnesota to, for the love of God, let them sell cocktails to-go.

— Chef Mashama Bailey of The Grey will open two restaurants in the forthcoming Thompson hotel in Austin.

— There’s a traffic circle in D.C. that is so dangerous and hated the city is using eminent domain to buy out the Wendy’s the alights it so they can tear the whole thing down.

— A beautiful piece from Meghan McCarron about how an esophageal injury forced her to break with her notions of what was “healthy” and instead focus on what her body needed.

The “float” at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans
Clair Lorell/Eater NOLA

— Is your cooking life stuck in a rut? Try a cooking challenge.

— Mardi Gras is canceled but Yardi Gras, where everyone builds floats in their yards, is here to stay. Check out all the food and restaurant-related floats around New Orleans.

— It’s Heat Week in Los Angeles, where the Eater LA team is celebrating the “city’s most widespread flavor component, inherent to so much of its food culture.” Some highlights include LA’s hot chicken history (and its connection to the originator of the dish), a timeline of spice in LA, and an exploration of Little Ethiopia (with gorgeous photos).

— A San Francisco restaurateur wants to revive the glory days of Chinatown with a new nightclub and music venue.

— The Facebook group preserving soul food traditions.

Off Eater

  • Part one of Reply All’s four-part investigation into the 10 years of workplace toxicity that led to Bon Appetit’s implosion and rebuilding this summer is a must-listen. BA is getting the full autopsy because its downfall was so notable but what’s so devastating about the magazine’s “original sin,” (hiring a cliquish group of all-white top editors) is that it’s so common. [Gimlet]
  • Standing ovation for this Primal Scream package from the New York Times’ Parenting section that fully captures the chaos and the devastation this pandemic has wrought for working parents. [NYT]
  • Exploring the best-looking streeteries in New York. [Curbed]
  • This week I learned Tootsie Roll is a public company (since 1922!) and it’s run by an 89-year-old woman. [Fortune]
  • Is it ethics, money, or both driving the alt-meat speculators? [The Baffler]
  • What it was like to wait on Stephen Miller and other Trumpers at a D.C. power restaurant (spoiler: it wasn’t great). [Slate]