After a grueling 20 months, Lido, an Italian restaurant in Harlem, was finally starting to see some signs of life.
The 11-year-old restaurant with a James Beard Award-winning head chef made it through the traumatic spring of 2020, when New York City became the epicenter of the United States' coronavirus crisis. The Lido was closed for a while before reopening as an outdoor restaurant. As it clawed its way back to health, it battled new Covid-19 safety guidelines, mask requirements, and vaccine mandates, supply chain delays, growing prices, a workforce shortage, and other obstacles.
Susannah Koteen, the owner of Lido and two other New York City restaurants, said Monday, "We were getting close to 100 percent."
Then came a jump in Delta infections and a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, fueled by the extremely contagious Omicron variety.
Over the weekend, New York State reported new coronavirus infections at all-time highs, and officials around the country are ready for another bleak pandemic winter. Some Broadway plays have been canceled, offices have closed, and people are scrambling to rearrange their Christmas plans in New York City.
"In the last two weeks, we've taken a massive nose dive," Koteen remarked. "It's excruciating."
Customers are phoning all the time to cancel bookings and gatherings, she said. Around ten of her 70-person crew have tested positive for the virus, forcing the restaurant to scramble to fill shifts.
Koteen contemplated closing Lido for the month of January over the weekend. She now believes that "we'll limp along" for the winter.
"I am responsible for everyone who works for me. I want them to be paid, but I don't want them to become ill "she stated "This is going to be a really difficult time for us."