The restaurant industry has survived one of the heaviest blows resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, with many across the nation closing their doors permanently as business has come to a near standstill. In Manhattan, both evolving onsite and indoor dining restrictions have left many restaurants to find creative ways to maintain business, from erecting outdoor tents, bubbles, and even wooden barn-like structures in an attempt to keep customers around.
Established in the East Village in 2010, Whitman’s NYC was no stranger to these struggles. Forced to temporarily close two of its locations, Whitman’s currently has three operating storefronts in the East Village, SoHo, and Hudson Yards.
Despite the setbacks and closings brought on by the pandemic in March, Larry Kramer, founder of Whitman’s, managed to keep spirits high and pivot the business in a new direction: feeding frontline workers.
“What we did from the start was a pivot to feeding frontline workers,” Kramer began. “We needed to move in a direction that was giving back to the community when everything [else] shut down.”
Cooking and providing meals to frontline workers also allowed Whitman’s to support their vendors and keep their staff employed. When burgers are cooking, everyone is happy.
“We had customers reaching out asking what they could do to help,” Kramer added. “It was truly community-driven… our customers, our investors, and others helped to provide the resources and support to continue cooking and providing hundreds of meals at a time.”
Through the support of customers and investors alike, Whitman’s has been able to provide hundreds of meals to the Lenox Hill Hospital and NYU’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital to date, and seeks to continue supporting these communities and others in the months to come.
With onsite dining options restricted, Whitman’s dedicated staff and management also doubled down on takeout orders, allowing more customers to support both Whitman’s and their community efforts during this time.
“What really affected us was not having any indoor dining,” Kramer added. “Fortunately we did have outdoor dining. It helped, but not to the extent it was before.”
Looking ahead, Whitman’s hopes to expand its community reach and push through the winter months as the pandemic continues to impact all aspects of NYC life.