California turns empty hotel rooms into safe spaces for the homeless, José Andrés feeds the country, and industry leaders describe their new normal. All this and more in this week’s Five on Friday.
José Andrés partners with celebrity chefs to feed the country
Chef José Andrés has enlisted the likes of Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Marcus Samuelsson, and others to help feed the hungry across the U.S. Andrés has worked out of libraries, closed restaurants, and food trucks to help feed students, quarantined cruise ship passengers, and 125 hospitals across the nation since the pandemic began, reports Yahoo! Lifestyle. In total, his organization, World Central Kitchen, has served more than 750,000 meals. In New York, for example, he has set up a café to serve the Mount Sinai field hospitality in Central Park, and in Harlem, he’s using Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant to feed families. “This operation is growing every day,” he told the website. “We want to put America to work in the process of feeding America.”
Industry leaders describe their new normal
As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt to these unprecedented times, we’re launching an interview series with industry leaders to find out how their businesses are being impacted and what they anticipate will change down the line. Josh Wyatt, CEO of NeueHouse, said the company chose to freeze membership dues to help out their members, who are in the creative community. With zero revenue, the company had to make the decision to furlough 95 percent of its employees. “This was the hardest moment in my 20-plus year career,” he says. “However, we made the decision to do so in order to allow us to survive, and we aim to reopen when it is safe to do so.” Read the rest of the interviews here.
LA’s homeless population to occupy local hotels
While hotel occupancy numbers continue to fall, with nearly 80 percent of hotel rooms in the U.S. empty, according to hospitality analytics company STR, state governments are stepping in to help. California, for instance, is working with the federal government to bring homeless people off the streets and into empty hotels to protect them and others from infection. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced the federal government would help pay for 15,000 rooms statewide, while LA county, which accounts for California’s largest concentration of homeless people, has set its own goal of 15,000 rooms. Known as Project Roomkey, the city’s Homeless Services Authority is mobilizing to move as much of that population as possible into hotels to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Currently, more than 1,300 beds at 15 different hotels are expected to be prepared by the end of this week, according to the Associated Press.
Manufacturers detail the challenges of COVID-19 on their business
Manufacturers are facing new challenges as the Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe. In Italy, production and shipping activities have been ordered to cease until at least April 13th, while Spanish manufacturers are considering taking the whole year as a loss. In the U.S., however, companies like MunnWorks are relying on their Chinese factories to help clear the backlog. Yet, when manufacturing comes back, there will need to be a new attitude around production overall. “Hotels and restaurants will need to understand new fears that our global citizens have,” says Jeff Lazerowich, president of hospitality at WSA Hospitality.
The industry gives back
Manufacturers, including Tarkett, Kravet, and Serta Simmons, have reorganized their facilities to make masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), while New York’s design community has put a selection of their work online to be auctioned off for charity, with proceeds going to Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization working to provide PPE to the city’s healthcare professionals, according to Dezeen. Further, Virgin Galactic and the Spaceship Company, have assembled a COVID task force that has designed several prototypes of patient oxygen hoods, which are being tested at Antelope Valley Hospital in California.