How one Michelin-star restaurant is reopening its New York eating room


When o.d.o. by Odo reopens its eating room for the primary time in additional than six months on Wednesday night, the 14-seat chef’s counter that helped create its intimate environment might be empty.

As a substitute, as much as eight diners will sit in a personal eating room after getting their temperatures checked to get pleasure from a prix fixe dinner ready by Chef Hiroki Odo.

The Japanese fine-dining restaurant, which earned its first Michelin star final 12 months, is among the many many New York Metropolis eating places which might be adapting their eating rooms to reopen for patrons in the course of the coronavirus pandemic. After the town turned the epicenter of the pandemic, authorities officers had been extra cautious in reopening its financial system, fearing a return of overcrowded hospitals and nonstop ambulance sirens. Going through a $2 billion lawsuit from tons of of restaurant homeowners, Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced three weeks in the past that indoor eating might return to the 5 boroughs at 25% capability on the final day of the month.

The choice is supposed to assist stem the losses of the town’s restaurant trade, which has been upended by the disaster. In August, 87% of restaurant homeowners couldn’t pay their full lease, in accordance with a survey by the New York Hospitality Alliance. 

However the 25% capability restrict implies that restaurant homeowners are having to make do with fewer prospects and better prices, like masks for workers and extra frequent cleansing. O.d.o. co-owner Satoru Yasumatsu mentioned that the speakeasy-style restaurant will maintain its out of doors eating open for now, till the capability restrict is raised.

Different New York eating places, like Porter Home Bar and Grill in Manhattan’s Time Warner Middle, are holding off on reopening their eating rooms till capability limits are solely half of pre-pandemic limits.

Restaurant homeowners won’t have to attend various extra weeks to unlock the upper capability restrict. Cuomo has mentioned that restrictions might be reassessed on Nov. 1 and restrictions might be loosened, so long as the an infection fee shouldn’t be rising.

However native well being officers have been sounding the alarm in current days concerning the rising variety of circumstances within the metropolis. Outbreaks in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods have pushed the town’s constructive check fee to its highest degree since June. A current report from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention linked restaurant eating to elevated threat of contracting Covid-19, though the Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation has referred to as the examine’s methodology flawed and mentioned it’s irresponsible to pin the unfold of the virus on one trade. 

As o.d.o. assessments the waters for New Yorkers’ urge for food to eat indoors, its personal eating room will solely be open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, with simply two reservation occasions: 5:45 p.m. and eight:30 p.m.

“Our restaurant is small,” Yasumatsu mentioned. “Even utilizing a personal room, we will accommodate eight folks most, will depend on the dimensions of the events. That is not sufficient for us to outlive.”

Whereas the adjustments to its seating would possibly hinder the expertise of consuming at o.d.o., Yasumatsu mentioned that the restaurant is planning to lift the stakes on its meals for the personal eating room. 

“That is the one choice that we’re enthusiastic about at this second,” he mentioned. “And hopefully the town permits the bar seating to open, even at 25% capability.”

Yasumatsu expects that indoor eating will deliver again higher-paying prospects. Present gross sales are down about 50% in contrast with final 12 months. Earlier than the pandemic pushed o.d.o. to supply supply for the primary time and to maneuver tables outdoor, the restaurant might rely on a buyer to spend $200 on a prix fixe multi-course meal often called kaiseki.

However o.d.o.’s dexterity in the course of the disaster has additionally prolonged to its menu. Quite than supply the standard multi-course dinner, its out of doors choices are a la carte and are available at a cheaper price level than kaiseki. Nonetheless, out of doors eating has introduced first-time prospects to the restaurant, in accordance with Yasumatsu.

On Friday, New York Mayor Invoice de Blasio made expanded out of doors eating everlasting and year-round for eating places. Earlier than, the choice was set to run out on the finish of October. As temperatures in New York drop, Yasumatsu joins different restaurant homeowners in in search of methods to increase its lifespan, from tents to heaters.

Nonetheless, o.d.o. is not betting completely on prospects desirous to eat at its restaurant, both outdoor or inside. It is launching sushi and Home of Suntory whiskey occasions at a bigger venue a number of blocks south of its Flatiron location. Yasumatsu mentioned that the restaurant can also be engaged on citywide sushi supply, geared toward wider-range viewers than its standard dear fare, and taking its higher-end supply nationwide by means of a possible partnership with Goldbelly.

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