I had the pleasure on Monday to speak at a rally to demand indoor dining for New York City restaurants. Gotham eateries have struggled enormously through the Chinese-virus epidemic and shutdown. First, dining establishments were padlocked from mid-March until roughly Memorial Day. While some hung on by delivering meals to quarantined Gothamites and selling take-out food, many others were victims of COVID-19, just as much as some 11,000 who perished in nursing homes in the Empire State.
Through a surprisingly mild summer, numerous restaurants served meals outdoors, creating a lively and delicious al fresco dining scene. While some establishments simply put small tables onto their sidewalks, others built elaborate wooden sheds to shield their patrons from the rains that mercifully have stayed away, for the most part. Others installed plants, musical speakers, and even HDTVs, to the delight of sports fans. This has been an encouraging example of what free marketeers call spontaneous order: Free people, somehow, figuring out how to turn nightmares into dreams come true.
Still, for many institutions, even this revenue without walls was not enough. Some have succumbed in recent weeks (the number is a mystery), while others cling by their cuticles.
Starting on Wednesday, New York City restaurants will be allowed to operate indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. This will be too little, too late, for too many spots.
I was delighted to deliver the remarks below, outside the Third Avenue office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, in hopes that he will allow at least 50-percent-capacity dining, if not full operations, with all deliberate speed.
Deroy Murdock’s remarks at
Open Our Restaurants Rally
September 28, 2020
My name is Deroy Murdock, and I can’t cook!
That’s right, folks.
Unlike you talented culinary professionals, I don’t know a wooden spoon from a wooden shoe.
A triumphant day in the kitchen for me is when I reheat leftovers, and they don’t burn.
So, how is it that I don’t starve to death?
I stay alive, thanks to the hard work and dedication of New York City’s restaurant and bar industry!
We have something brilliant going on in the East Village and throughout New York City.
We have these establishments where I walk in, and people who know what they’re doing feed me.
After I finish eating, I give them money, I go home, and they wash the dishes.
Why fight that system?
There are millions of other New Yorkers who cannot cook.
And so, I stand before you not as a restaurant owner, nor a waiter, and certainly not as an executive chef.
I am a patron who loves to eat in restaurants, both because I enjoy it, and it’s great for my health.
So, on behalf of those of us who eat the wonderful meals you prepare and drink the tasty and soothing drinks you make, let me say:
Thank you for your hard work and sacrifice!
We need you.
We love you.
And we are rooting for you!
It has been miserable throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, this gift from the Chinese Communist Party, to watch as millions of our countrymen have gotten sick, and hundreds of thousands have died — too many of them here in New York.
But we also have seen restaurants die from COVID-19.
Just east of my favorite bar, McSorley’s Old Ale House, which is soldiering on, Porsena has passed away.
I miss them, and I miss their pork chops.
Right on my street, Fourth Avenue, Bar Bacon — the home of the brilliant and mouth-watering bacon cannoli — is no more.
Other establishments are holding on for dear life.
Cozy Soup and Burger at Astor Place — which serves spectacular grilled cheddar with bacon on wheat bread — is fighting valiantly to stay in business.
Vice Versa, in Hell’s Kitchen, is doing what they can, to keep their doors open and keep serving their stunning casoncelli alla bergamasca.
Ask for it by name!
What do we need to stop these restaurant deaths and assure that those hanging on actually stay with us?
We need indoor dining, and we need it now!
Why the hell do we still have ZERO indoor dining in New York City?
We are surrounded by indoor dining:
To the east, Nassau County has 50 percent capacity indoor dining.
To the north, Westchester County has 50 percent indoor dining.
And to our west, New Jersey has 25 percent indoor dining.
And in New York City:
Zero percent indoor dining.
What are we?
Chopped liver — with chives, melba toast, and an amber beer?
This cannot be based on science.
Last night, I looked up the numbers from Johns Hopkins University.
New Jersey’s weekly positive test rate for COVID-19 is 2.36 percent.
And in New York State: 0.98 percent.
They are almost two-and-a-half times more infected than we are right now, and they have 25 percent indoor dining, and we have zero percent?
New York County — Manhattan — had 47 new China virus cases on Sunday.
Westchester had 50 new cases.
And Nassau County had 71 new cases.
And yet Westchester and Nassau restaurants are half-full, while New York City’s are 100 percent empty?
That sounds like junk science to me!
And who, by the way, is the chief junk scientist behind your pain and mine?
Why that would be the distinguished professor or immunology, Dr. Warren Wilhelm, Ph.D., better known as Bill de Blasio.
He is no friend of the New York restaurant and bar industry.
Our Sandinista mayor sees your pain as part of his Marxist class struggle.
The man who helped the Ortega brothers torture Nicaragua in the 1980s recently said that indoor dining is:
“an activity for middle and upper-income New Yorkers.”
Joseph Stalin would be proud.
Well, Comrade de Bolshevik, what about the working-class waiters, waitresses, busboys, receptionists, dishwashers, and all the others who are suffering, while you get your class-warfare rocks off?
Don’t they count?
I have three messages for our mayor, Comrade Bill de Bolshevik:
First, if you let New York City’s restaurants offer indoor dining at only 25 percent, why don’t you let them pay just 25 percent of their tax liability?
Second, if you let New York City’s restaurants offer indoor dining at only 25 percent, how about we taxpayers give you just 25 percent of your paycheck?
And my third message to Mayor de Bolshevik is just two words.
And they’re not Happy Halloween!
We New Yorkers have suffered enough — not least you fine people — thanks to the jaw-dropping incompetence, if not the outright hostility of Mayor de Bolshevik.
The time is now, in fact the time is long overdue, to let New York City’s bars and restaurants do what they do best:
Offer food and drink to hungry, thirsty patrons and add some culinary magic to their lives, in big enough volume to earn a decent living — both outdoors AND indoors.
And yes, we’re big boys and girls.
You who own the restaurants and bars, your employees, and we — your grateful guests — can do this intelligently.
We can do this safely.
And yes, folks, we can do it deliciously.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to stop talking right now.
This speech has made me very hungry!
Thank you very much!