Coronavirus News: NYC group turns shuttered restaurant into food pantry for laid-off employees

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A New York City Hospitality Group converted one of its shuttered bars and restaurants into a food pantry of sorts for its employees on Friday.

Gerber Group runs several bars and restaurants such as Mr. Purple and Irvington in New York City, Washington D.C. and Atlanta.

The company closed its properties and laid off about 400 employees Monday when New York ordered bars and restaurants to close except for takeout and delivery.

"We started thinking about what do we do next week and the following week," CEO Scott Gerber said. "So we decided we would start buying in bulk food they can take home to their families and at least survive."

Gerber said rather than cancelling orders he would have used for patrons at his bars and restaurants, he decided to repurpose the food orders for his former staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I have already treated everyone in my company like a family, and I will forever," he said. "So whatever we can do to help them. Listen, if it were up to us and we had unlimited funds, we would keep paying people to not come to work."

Gerber said he hoped to reopen all of his locations as soon as the threat passes and re-employ all of his staff.

Until then, he said he plans to continue running the food pantry for his former employees on a weekly basis, offering deliveries to those unable to come in themselves.

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