In what may be a sign of things to come, a New York City restaurant will soon require customers to take a rapid COVID-19 test at the door before being allowed to eat inside.
City Winery will launch the pilot “test-to-table” dining two days a week, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, this week for the rest of the year. Customers will pre-pay $50 per person for the test when making a reservation at Resy.com. The restaurant is still open test-free Thursday through Monday.
“Until a vaccine is in people’s arms, and we don’t think that’s going to be until the summer of next year, what are we going to do to have people be willing to come in to dine?” City Winery’s founder and CEO, Michael Dorf, told Yahoo Finance Live. “We feel we’ve created a bubble of a little more safety. I mean nothing is perfect, but this virus is tricky,”
A certified nurse will administer the nasal swab at the door and customers will be given a complimentary glass of champagne to sip while they wait the 10 to 15 minutes for their results.
If negative, the guest will be allowed inside but must still follow standard protocols such as social distancing and mask wearing. If the test is positive, the guest will be offered a PCR test that is sent to a lab, but will not be allowed in.
“It’s the safest way we can see creating a hospitality experience in New York right now,” said Dorf, adding that while he realizes the test is expensive, it’s better than having to close his restaurant.
“I really wish the tests were cheaper. I wish they were paid for by the state or city. Actually, I think our insurance companies should be paying for it since they continue to not pay for any business interruption insurance, and they’re keeping all of our liability premiums full, even though we have very little risk because half of our locations are closed,” he said.
The pilot will only take place at its Manhattan location for now. City Winery also has locations in New York’s Hudson Valley, Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Dorf said indoor dining is getting more complicated during the colder months and he fears Governor Andrew Cuomo may shut down all indoor dining in New York next week if the infection rate in the state continues to rise.
“Our company had 1,400 people nationally before the pandemic, we’re down to 450 now,” said Dorf. “We’re doing everything we can to stay open and to keep our staff employed.”
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.