Dining in, but out
Restaurants all over the world are adapting to fit the needs of the dining community amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these uncertain times, nonprofit group Culinaria is launching Restaurant Weeks To-Go, beginning Monday, March 16, an update on its popular event.
Culinaria, a 19-year-old organization that promotes San Antonio as a food and wine destination, is reminding locals that many of the city's favorite restaurants are still open for business despite the spread of coronavirus.
“Participating restaurants have $15 lunch, $30 dinner three-course prix-fixe menus, and some are also offering family meals,” says Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge, president and CEO of Culinaria, in a release. “For those who do venture out, be assured, the culinary community is taking extra precautions to clean and sanitize establishments frequently throughout the day, not only the dining area, but behind the scenes in the kitchen and prep spaces, including equipment.”
The program will run indefinitely until there is an assurance that the COVID-19 crisis has been contained, which may mean the implementation of a new normal for restauranteurs.
On March 16, the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed 57 cases of COVID-19 in the Lone Star State, including three positive cases in Bexar County. The trend of social distancing has directly affected eateries in the San Antonio area.
On March 13, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a seven-day public health emergency declaration which prohibits gatherings of more than 500 people. It also strongly recommends against gatherings of 250 or more. For high-risk individuals, San Antonio Metro Health District’s recommendation is refraining from attending gatherings of 10 or more.
This most-at-risk population is defined as citizens 60 years and older; people with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease; those with compromised immune systems; and those who are pregnant or have been pregnant over the past two weeks.
Despite these restrictions, Restaurant Weeks To-Go organizers feel that it’s imperative to stimulate the economy, particularly in the Alamo City which has been celebrated for its culinary achievement. In fact, San Antonio has the distinction of being named UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2017, which is an honor shared by only two cities in the United States.
Culinaria is also currently organizing a donation-based emergency relief fun to help restaurants on the brink of financial collapse help cover operating costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will likely continue to adversely affect the hotel, travel, and food and beverage industries.
“The mission of Culinaria has always been to promote San Antonio as a culinary destination, and, to support the restaurant and hospitality community in times of financial hardship or family emergencies,” continued Taranto-Etheredge. “We ask the community to give what you can to help restaurant owners keep their establishments operational.”
Any donations sent to this cause are 100 percent tax deductible.
Even leaving a tip that’s a little more than usual might go a long way for a server trying to make ends meet in the age of social distancing.
A comprehensive list of participating restaurants and further information about the Emergency Relief Fund can be found on their website.