NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses across the city, but some say Times Square has been disproportionately impacted.
But this week, several groups have joined together for an initiative with the goal of breathing life back into the neighborhood.
Under the bright lights of Times Square, diners are receiving a rare chance to feast on a hearty meal with a side of a performance.
“Tonight, I feel like revived, I feel like there’s life. It feels so good to be outside,” said Donna Adams, of Long Island.
It’s all a part of “Taste of Times Square,” which this year, because of the coronavirus, has been reimagined.
Now for a full week, people can enjoy a three-course meal at 20 restaurants throughout the Theater District for $35 all while enjoying free performances by artists.
With about 50% of businesses in the area still closed, the Times Square Alliance says the initiative is a way to drive customers directly to restaurants.
“Food and music, what two better ways to bring people together. By combining both of those things, we’re all out here supporting each other,” Joe Papa, with the Times Square Alliance, told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
Tony’s Di Napoli is serving near where the ball drops.
“For our customers to come and see this is a great boost of confidence and morale,” said Ciro Heta, manager of Tony’s Di Napoli.
With business down 75-85%, Le Rivage is grateful for the support.
“We try to stay open as much as we can,” restaurant manager Thibaud Muller said. “For sure, we don’t make any money right now.”
The Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe is organizing the dozens of performers taking part.
“By seeing artists out in the street again, I think it gives people hope that the arts and Broadway in New York City is going to come back,” said Holly-Anne Devlin, with Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe and Kaleidoscope Entertainment.
Organizers say there will be two or three unique performances every night between Sunday and Friday. The performances will take place between 5-7 p.m. and pop up in various locations throughout Times Square.
“The human connection means so much. Connecting with people through entertainment is just such a powerful thing,” contortionist Ellie Steingraeber said.
Connections that restaurant owners hope will help keep them alive.
For more information, visit tsq.org/taste.
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