Even in an uncertain and troublesome time, restaurants and small businesses are doing great things

I haven’t written on this blog in quite some time, but I recently got to thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic and how much I miss one of my favorite activities…dining out. The restaurant experience has always been an important part of my social life — it’s where I’ve had first dates, life celebrations, tried new things, joined groups of friends together, met new friends, gotten business done, and more. I miss those connections. I miss the ambiance. I miss the flavors. Most of all, I feel for all the restaurateurs, chefs, wait staff, dishwashers, suppliers, and more whose lives have been completely upended by something they have no control over.

I got to thinking even more about the future of restaurants last weekend when I read the moving piece by Gabrielle Hamilton in the The New York Times about her experience temporarily closing her renowned restaurant, Prune, and the uncertainty she faces for the business, the restaurant industry and her personal life.

“Forced to shutter Prune, I’ve been revisiting my original dreams for it — and wondering if there will still be a place for it in the New York of the future.”

-Gabrielle Hamilton, New York Times Magazine, April 23, 2020

While we’re all feeling a little down and miss our daily interactions, I’ve also observed great resilience and resolve from a lot of these businesses that will do whatever it take to survive and to continue serving their loyal friends. That’s truly impressive and a strength that I’m not sure I would have if put in a similar situation.

So, as I’ve been inspired by the creativity of restaurants, local grocers, wine and spirits stores, bakeries, coffee shops, and more, I’ve decided to use this forum as a way to share what people are doing to band together.

I live in New York, so my scope may be limited. I would love to hear what others are observing in their local communities and hear those powerful stories, too. Share what you see or what your business is doing!

I know it’s tough times and we’re all trying to get by day-by-day. If we have the extra dollars to support your favorite local spot(s), I encourage us to do so. We probably have no idea how much just one dinner, one coffee, one bag of groceries, one bottle of mine or one small donation will mean to them.

New Things Coming to The Next Great Meal

After a lot of thought about how to maximize the use of this blog, and make sure I am able to capture all my reader’s attention, I have decided to mix up the format a little. Change is good every once in a while, right! So, rather than long-form reviews of restaurant you will now see shorter, more succinct write-ups. It will still be the same great meals, and hopefully you will be seeing a lot more of them now!

I have also created a new ratings scale – NGM Rating (Get it? Next Great Meal Rating). Restaurants will be rated from A+ being the highest to F. I hope not to experience many Fs, but hey, anything’s possible. As always, I am interested in hearing readers’ feedback so please comment if you love/hate/or are indifferent to the new format.

To kick everything off. … Look out for a smattering of reviews this week from restaurants I have been to in the past couple months. It’s a good mix of new, old and otherwise, with lots of places I’d never tried before. We’ve got Bar Primi, Root & Bone, GG’s, The Randolph, Maialino, Marta and Alta included in the list. Expect the next great meals to keep rolling in from here.

Happy Eating!