Daniel Humm, owner of the three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park (EMP) in New York, received $US250,000 from American Express in two days just by asking, Bloomberg reports. The restaurant was named number 1 in the world in 2017.
After Eleven Madison Park closed on March 16, Humm says that he realised that it would have cost “millions of dollars” to reopen between staffing, equipment, and sourcing costs. Instead, he decided to transform the restaurant into a commissary kitchen that prepares meals for people facing hunger through nonprofit Rethink Food.
Not unlike other restaurateurs pivoting their business models, though, he needed the money to do it. “I went to American Express and said, ‘I need $250,000 in two days to get this started.’ And they came through,” Humm told Bloomberg in a May 4 interview. The money went through Rethink Food, where Humm sits on the board, to open up Eleven Madison Park for the nonprofit
Close to two months later, the kitchen at EMP is now capable of producing 3,000 donated meals each day. If Eleven Madison Park reopens after the coronavirus pandemic — which Humm calls a “big question mark” — he says that the restaurant will continue to feed New Yorkers facing hunger, along with the “one percent.”
Addressing food access and hunger is a respectable pivot for a restaurant where meals regularly costs hundreds of dollars.
“The infrastructure to end hunger needs to come out of restaurants. Any way that EMP reopens – and it’s a blank canvas right now, we would need to refdefine what luxury means – it will also be an opportunity to continue to feed people who don’t have anything. I don’t need to only feed the one percent anymore.”
Many restaurants across America are feeding frontline workers and other vulnerable populations as a means of keeping their staff paid and their businesses alive, with California’s government going as far as paying restaurants to meet both resident and business needs