The last time I set foot inside a restaurant was Wednesday, March 11. I sat alone at a narrow counter in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and ate hot, gilded pupusas off a paper plate, spooning curtido — cabbage and carrots stung by chiles and vinegar — out of a communal jar. From where I live, the subway ride took me an hour and a half each way, longer than the meal itself, but it was worth it.

The next day the mayor declared a state of emergency. Within a week, the governor had ordered restaurants to close, allowing only takeout and delivery. News came that a chef I’d talked with a month before had died of the virus. By the end of April, close to six million restaurant workers across the country had lost their jobs, about half the industry’s employees and more than a quarter of all Americans who had lost work. To date more than 110,000 restaurants, one out of every six in the country, have closed, and more than two million jobs have not yet been recovered.

The last time I set foot inside a restaurant was Wednesday, March 11. I sat alone at a narrow counter in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and ate hot, gilded pupusas off a paper plate, spooning curtido — cabbage and carrots stung by chiles and vinegar — out of a communal jar. […]








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