The padlocks are in place at Contento, a Peruvian restaurant in East Harlem. Owner Yannick Benjamin is taking precautions after a customer and staff member tested positive with COVID.
"This was going to be our biggest week and here we are we have to shut down," Benjamin said.
He temporarily closed his restaurant on Tuesday, minutes before serving a private meal to 25 guests.
He's particularly conscientious because some of his staff members are immune-compromised and his restaurant caters to people with disabilities.
"I feel like as a restaurant that practices and believes in social sustainability, just to say it is not enough. you have to act upon it and that's what we did," Benjamin said.
And other restaurants are facing similar issues with many of them posting on social media that service is on hold because of COVID cases.
The omicron variant is also wiping out reservations, particularly for larger parties, at Tudor City Steakhouse.
"The last ten days we have had around 300 people cancel altogether. They're scared, you know," owner Mirso Lekic said.
Contento only opened in June and just this week it was named one of the ten best new restaurants by the New York Times.
Closing doesn't help that momentum, but Benjamin knows it's the right decision.
"I find it's going to be a lot easier and closing my eyes, knowing people's lives are safe and we are as an entity at Contento and what we believe in, we are doing the right thing," Benjamin said.
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