UPPER MANHATTAN, NY — More than 570 eateries across the five boroughs are participating in the New York City Restaurant Week that kicked off Monday – but Upper Manhattan has been left out.
Not a single restaurant in Washington Heights or Inwood - neighborhoods with more than 200,000 residents and dozens, if not hundreds, of eateries – made it to the list.
It's left many scratching their heads.
Over 400 restaurants from Manhattan dominate the list of participating eateries, which gives New Yorkers the chance to taste the city's restaurants at discounted prices. This year, the coronavirus has forced it to be reimagined as a to-go event.
For comparison, 37 restaurants from Harlem and East Harlem are participating, and 41 restaurants on the Upper West Side are taking part.
The more than 570 participating restaurants is a record number, and the eateries will offer select $20.21 meal options for takeout and delivery from Jan. 25 through Sunday.
Restaurants aren't selected by any sort of governing body. Instead, restaurant owners have to sign their own eateries up to take part in the week.
Also, the event is by no means a new one. It has been going on since 1992, and there was a lengthy sign-up window for the 2021 week before it kicked off. Additionally, there are no signs that an outreach effort to other neighborhoods took place that excluded Inwood and Washington Heights.
NYC + Company, which is the organization that runs restaurant week, also waived participation fees for the program this winter to "further support restaurants and encourage participation."
“While no eateries in Washington Heights and Inwood decided to participate in this winter’s program, we are pleased to have other Upper Manhattan restaurants participating, including more than 20 in Harlem," said Chris Heywood, NYC & Company's Executive Vice President of Global Communication. "As always, we would gladly welcome increased participation from other Upper Manhattan eateries in the future.”
Still, the complete omission from the event leaves some Upper Manhattan restaurant owners feeling as if the community continues to get left behind in the sprawling network of New York City.
"Members of the uptown restaurant community, particularly Latino restaurant owners, did not participate in restaurant week largely because they were unaware of the events and how to participate," said Jeff Garcia, president of the New York State Latino Restaurant Bar & Lounge Association.
"We in no way think it was intentional, but it just goes to show how our community continues to be left behind. To be honest, owners everywhere are overwhelmed with everyday operations and survival, and so we’ll give folks the benefit of the doubt that it was just an oversight. However, we hope to be included in the future."
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents Inwood and Washington Heights, questioned the amount of outreach getting done in "predominantly underserved communities to be part of these initiatives."
"The pandemic caused thousands of businesses across the city to go under. Our restaurants in Northern Manhattan and across the five boroughs are in crisis, they need all the help they can get," Rodriguez told Patch.
"Restaurant Week is an opportunity for businesses to see a small increase in sales. However, we are seeing the same issue happen over and over again. There isn't enough outreach done for the local businesses in predominantly underserved communities to be part of these initiatives."
Information on the over 570 restaurants participating in the week can be found here.