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Hospitality Under Siege, Episode 1: Moto Distillery & Kato Sake Works

L to R: Marie Estrada of Moto Distillery and Shinobu Kato, owner of Kato Sake Works

For those of us born into circumstances commonly, if chauvinistically, described as “First World”, the notion of security - of being cushioned like a lot of pampered, powdered Marie Antoinettes from a pitiless, fickle and treacherous universe - is very often seen as something like a birthright. Undergirding that notion is the assumption that everything, even here in one of the industrialized democratic world’s least nurturing nations, will, in the end, work itself out in the manner of an MGM musical.

But in the space of a single month, the proverbial wolf-at-the-door - to many Americans only an abstraction - has for many been unmuzzled by the sudden public health crisis that is the COVID-19 outbreak; the canine’s baying has suddenly been amplified to terrifying decibel levels, threatening with description the made-of-sticks edifice of our cherished illusions of security.

And the restaurant/bar industry, made, not of sticks, but of mildewed straw, has been confronted by arguably the bleakest existential crisis of any economic sector. The ability to think outside the box is suddenly at a premium; those entrepreneurs who can’t pivot fast enough will be flattened by the COVID bumrush in the blink of an eye. Owners won’t be alone among the casualties, of course; so will the porters, the waiters, the dishwashers, the bartenders. Even the Cheesecake Factory is giving its landlords the finger.

As a matter of fact, what you’re reading - the first installment of a column documenting the struggles of just one tiny stitch (Bushwick) in America’s restaurant/bar tapestry - owes its continue reading, click here.

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