NYC Restaurant Week returns -- but with changes this year

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Restaurant Week gets underway Monday -- even without indoor dining -- to encourage New Yorkers to support the dining community during a critical time.

This year's event is called Restaurant Week To Go and a record-breaking 570 restaurants across the five boroughs will participate.

Every eatery will offer at least one bargain $20.21 takeout or delivery meal of lunch or dinner with one side dish.

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, many restaurants will offer takeout and delivery for the first time. Diners can also sort restaurant options through filters like Black-owned restaurants, Friyay, date night and more.

Organizer NYC & Company waived fees for participating restaurants this year amid the pandemic.

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Many hope the Restaurant Week will be a much-needed boost to the industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

"Restaurant Week will provide the infusion, just the injection, shot in the arm, that some of us need, most of us need," said Melba Wilson, owner of Melbas in Harlem. "As I stand here and look to the right and there is statue of Frederick Douglass and to my left, Harriet Tubman, I know this too shall pass."

Many of the establishments that have survived the pandemic so far have jumped through hoops as restrictions continue to change.

"It was a scary experience in the beginning, but I think we all learned from it, how to open a restaurant six different ways in a year," said Greg Flaherty, manager of Five Napkin Burger on the Upper West Side.

There are 200 more restaurants participating this year than in any Restaurant Week going as far back as 1992.

"Restaurants and restaurant workers need our support now more than ever, so it was important to us that all eateries across the five boroughs had the opportunity to participate in this program aimed at increasing local support. We are thrilled that more than 570 restaurants have signed on, and we are grateful to each of them for coming together to showcase NYC's world-class cuisine during this reimagined NYC Restaurant Week. And to New Yorkers we say make plans to do your part - order often and be generous with gratuities," said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company.

Leading restaurateurs and restaurants participating in this year's program include: José Andrés (Mercado Little Spain); Joe Bastianich (Babbo, Casa Mono, Eataly, Lupa); Tren'ness Woods-Black (Sylvia's); Daniel Boulud (Bar Boulud, Epicerie Boulud); Andrew Carmellini (Bar Primi, The Dutch, Lafayette, Leuca, Locanda Verde, Westlight); Leah Cohen (Pig & Khao); Lisa Fernandes (Sweet Chili); Daniel Kruger (Loring Place); Keith McNally (Minetta Tavern, Morandi, Pastis); Danny Meyer (Blue Smoke, Daily Provisions, Gramercy Tavern, Intersect by Lexus, Marta, Tacocina, Union Square Cafe); Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster); Ed Schoenfeld (RedFarm); Stephen Starr (El Vez, Pastis, Upland); Michael Stillman (Quality Eats); Jean-Georges Vongerichten (The Fulton, JoJo, Mercer Kitchen, Nougatine, Perry Street); Melba Wilson (Melba's).

To further support the restaurants, the following delivery platforms have agreed to discount commissions or waive their fees during the promotional period: Seamless and Grubhub, BentoBox, Bbot and Tock.

"This year it was important to lift the dining industry at a critical time," said Alyssa Schmid with NYC & Company.

The event runs Jan. 25-31. Click here to search participating restaurants.

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