This week, I thank my bubble of friends and family. If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to start building one. The experts, also known as SCIENTISTS, are saying we are looking at least two more years, maybe three, before we can emerge back into the regular world. A bubble is essential for all of our emotional welfare.
One great sign of our great Harlem resiliency during these times is the return of Harlem Restaurant Week. Now in its 11th consecutive season, it is the only restaurant week program in a New York City neighborhood this fall. Taking place Oct. 19-31, restaurants are offering prix-fixe meals, $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner (outdoor, take-out or delivery) and under $10 Harlem Eats. Retailers will offer $25-and-under deals.
Created by Harlem Park to Park, Harlem Restaurant Week is a celebration of our hospitality, community and a welcome invitation to the rest of the city to share our village’s enduring spirit. “Harlem was definitely set back with COVID. We saw some permanent closures, like everywhere else, but we have also seen a level of ingenuity and resiliency emerge from our businesses that has been inspiring and trendsetting,” said Harlem Park to Park Executive Director Nikoa Evans-Hendricks.
Getting to this point has been no easy feat for Harlem restaurants. All had to reduce staff, shorten hours and menus, and quickly adapt to the rolling stages of reopening. However, even in the early months of quarantine many restaurants were still feeding frontline and essential workers and the food insecure on their own or through the outstanding Harlem programming from Harlem Park to Park, Harlem Grown, Sylvia’s with National Action Network and Harlem EatUp! with World Central Kitchen.
Now as we move into the colder seasons, our restaurants must make 25% indoor capacity and outdoor dining and closed streets work to meet their expenses. Harlem Restaurant Week is just the jump needed to not only bring our community out but to remind those outside of Harlem of our dynamic food scene.
“We are certainly not out of the woods and much more help is needed for this industry to fully return,” says Evans-Hendricks. “However, we are also hearing from restaurants that they are inching closer to pre-COVID numbers, which is encouraging as we enter the colder months. Even more encouraging is seeing how businesses have emerged for growth from the shutdown and we want to support that trajectory as they navigate these new waters.”
For more information on Harlem Restaurant Week and a list of participating restaurants and retailers, visit www.harlemrestaurantweek.com. See you there!
Stay safe, wear a mask, eat well and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!