Restaurateur Danny Meyer is temporarily shuttering all 19 of his Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) restaurants in New York City due to the coronavirus, including Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, he announced Friday.
The restaurants, which closed after lunch Friday, will remain closed until further notice. A notice on the restaurant group’s website confirms the closures.
“For those of us whose passion is to bring people together in a spirit of healing, it’s nearly unfathomable to confront the reality that our very purpose could be a threat to the health & safety of our community,” Meyer tweeted. “By fully facing this storm today, we hope to return to serving our guests sooner than later. Our entire team cannot wait for that moment.”
The move comes less than a day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all of the state’s restaurants to cut their seating capacity in half to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. That order takes effect Friday evening.
Meyer, known for being a leader in the restaurant industry during his long career, is among the first operators in New York to shut his doors so as not to further the spread of the respiratory illness.
Early this week, Meyer closed his restaurant The Modern after learning that one of its customers, the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
USHG will continue to pay affected employees, at least through the end of the current pay cycle, according to The New York Times.
Restaurants around the country have already reported massive drops in business since the virus began spreading around the country late last month.
Numerous independent concepts in Seattle, the first major city hit by the virus, have closed their doors.
Meyer founded USHG group in 1985 with the opening of Union Square Cafe.