As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, Tom Colicchio has made what he is calling the most difficult choice of his career in order to do his part in ending the global health crisis.
"Today I’ve made the hardest decision I’ve ever faced in my 40 years in this industry, to temporarily close Craft and our family of restaurants in NYC and L.A as well as our corporate office after dinner service this evening," the Bravo's Top Chef head judge wrote in a Sunday, March 15 Instagram post. "We are taking our lead from the science community, public heath agencies, and the federal, state, and local leaders who have made it clear: the time for collective, coordinated action is now."
"Our mission has always been ‘Make People Happy’ but we can no longer do that without jeopardizing the wellbeing of our family of staff, our purveyors, and our guests," he continued. "We will do everything we can to support our employees through this transition and help each other stay safe. For now, we plan to work with local authorities to help our communities get through this crisis."
In the post, Tom offered his followers a helpful tip as to how to support his staff throughout the temporary closings: "For those asking how you can help: 50% of the proceeds of all gift certificates purchased between today and April 30th will be placed into a staff fund to help financially support our employees."
Fellow Top Chef judge Gail Simmons offered her support in a comment on the post, writing: "As always inspired by you T."
That same night, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would sign an executive order limiting all restaurants, bars, and cafés in the city to food takeout and delivery, effective on March 17. Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles made the same decision, which went into effect at midnight that same night. Fourteen resorts along the Las Vegas strip, where Tom has two restaurants, have temporarily closed as well.
Just weeks prior, Tom celebrated the 19th anniversary of Craft, his acclaimed restaurant in NYC's Gramercy area. "Thank you @craft_newyork and everyone who has made the last 19 years possible," he wrote on March 7. "It’s a true labor of love and I’ve loved every minute of it. Cheers to many, many more."
During an interview on MSNBC on Monday, March 16, Tom further explained how he came to the difficult decision. “I sat home and said, 'I can’t go out anymore, I've got to protect my family'," he recalled. "I said to myself, 'I can't ask my employees to go out anymore. This is dangerous. I’m putting them in danger.'"
While Tom is heartbroken that the choice will put his beloved staff temporarily out of work, he feels that keeping them, as well as the general public, safe is a top priority. "You want to keep the tips going, you want to keep whatever business there is going, [but] it’s dangerous," he explained. "Right now we need to shut this thing down and get healthy first. If we don’t stop this virus, it’s going to get worse.”
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