What has it been like to operate a restaurant during the pandemic?
What has it been like to run a restaurant in New York City during, without exaggeration, the most grueling and devastating period for the industry? For Eater, photographer and writer Gary He captured the stories of four different restaurants, among them a storied Chinatown banquet hall and a vaunted Michelin-starred icon. The travails of these businesses reveal a pervasive vacillation between hope and hopelessness, which has plagued the dining landscape for nearly two years: closures, reopenings, shifting indoor dining mandates, and an endless stream of pivots, celebrations, confusion, and exhaustion. And this long list of challenges goes on. With a brand-new variant, this nightmare is far from over, and restaurants continue to navigate a shortage in the labor supply, customer outbursts, towering debt, and so much more. But for now, we can get a clearer picture of the hardship of running a restaurant over the past 20 months. —Matthew Sedacca