As the financial effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to plague the world, prolific chef and restaurateur David Chang recently announced the closure of two restaurants. Due to monetary losses accumulated during the period of extended closure, the Momofuku restaurant group has announced that it will not be looking to reopen Momofuku Nishi, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and Washington’s Momofuku CCDC, in Washington.
Following “negotiating with our landlords, changing the service model, and more,” Momofuku noted that “increased investments in health and safety, huge reopening expenses, and the lack of rent relief” have created a situation where the existence of the two restaurants “no longer made sense.”
Talking to The New York Times back in March, Chang noted that without serious government intervention, the restaurant industry will crumble. The closure of his popular locations is just the latest in what looks to be a move toward the inevitable as small independent restaurants apply for federal loans and question their futures.
But there some positive news in the mix, Chang will be moving Momofuku Ssam Bar, in the East Village to Bar Wayo located at South Street Seaport. The move will see the staff of both restaurants merge into one team.
Additionally, despite having to lay off employees and take on reduced salary measures, Chang’s restaurant group has been supporting employees through its Momofuku Bluetape Fund and has been paying costs of medical insurance through the Cobra program.
Catch the official statement from Momofuku restaurant group and David Chang below.
View this post on Instagram
to our momofuku friends and family, we wanted to share the sad news that we are not reopening @momofukudc and momofuku nishi. we are also moving momofuku ssäm bar to the wayō space at south street seaport and combining those teams. we are so grateful to everyone that made ccdc and nishi what they were. ccdc was dave’s hometown restaurant, and at nishi, we learned how to face extremely difficult challenges together. the lessons and memories from these restaurants will always be a part of momofuku. these teams will continue to be supported by the momofuku bluetape fund through this crisis, and momofuku is committed to paying the costs of cobra medical insurance coverage. as we navigate this crisis, safety is our guiding principle. when we looked at the investments needed to make our restaurants the safest places to dine and work—new systems and personal protective equipment for our teams—it became clear that not all our restaurants would be able to bear those costs. we do not have all the answers, but our belief in the scrappy, passionate, hard-working people in our industry remains unchanged. link in bio to read the full note from our ceo @mzmariscal on this decision and the future of momofuku.
View this post on Instagram
Really hard day. Closing @momolongplay Nishi and CCDC and moving Ssäm Bar. Agonized over a million possible scenarios… at the end of the day this was the only viable option. Can’t stop thinking about the blood sweat and tears that everybody put into these restaurants over the years. All I know is that we cannot let our industry or our people be this vulnerable ever again…. going to do everything I can to help build a safe, better future for all of us. To start, I spoke with momo ceo @mzmariscal about the closures and what we’re doing to take care of our teams, as well as the great chefs @ericbost and @lincolncarson about their own decisions to close and what they think is coming next. Our raw conversations are on @davechangshow today. ❤️dc
In case you missed it, Eleven Madison Park may not reopen after Coronavirus pandemic.