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The restaurant business can be a beast. Plain and simply put, the failure rate numbers are pretty crappy. About 60 percent of new restaurants fail within the first year, per Business Insider.  And, nearly 80 percent go under before their fifth year.

But that doesn’t stop the thousands of people — 13,251 in 2018 to be exact — from opening restaurants in the U.S. each year, including Just Eats host, Chef JJ Johnson, who opened FIELDTRIP in 2019.

Changes in the Restaurant Industry

However, less than a year after FIELDTRIP’s opening in July 2019, Chef JJ isn’t closing the restaurant because it failed. Like many restaurant owners, the James Beard Award-winning chef couldn’t have seen this day coming. Restaurants and other government-deemed non-essential businesses across the U.S. were forced to close their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ghost-Style Restaurant

Sunday afternoon brunches with the girls or late night dinners with the boo will be a wrap for the unforeseeable future. However, unlike other businesses that completely shut down operations, many restaurants were allowed to remain open as ghost-style restaurants — only providing delivery or take-out services.

“In my mind was, how can I get [food to] people in the community…that needs food, and how can we do that safely,” Chef JJ said in a video with Thrillist.

Contactless Deliveries

In the video, Chef JJ explained that FIELDTRIP’s food delivery service is contactless.

  • They ring your bell.
  • They hang the bag on your door handle.
  • They knock three times.
  • And, they’re out.

 

How Day-to-Day Operations Have Changed

Forced to layoff half his staff, Chef JJ is dedicated to keeping the restaurant open for as long as possible.

“So, I’m literally…I’m the dishwasher, I’m the delivery guy…I’m filling in all the nooks and the crannys to make sure the business can go,” Chef JJ told the Thrillist.

Continuing to Serve the Community

In a recent post, Chef JJ shared that amid the operational changes and hardships with the restaurant, he is still committed to serving his community. In an Instagram post, he shared an image of him delivering food to kids in a local Harlem shelter and to a local Harlem hospital.

“Been through some things in life, nothing quite like what’s going on now,” Chef JJ captioned in his Instagram post. “None of us. But I got a call from Tony founder of @harlemgrown and shared with me that kids in Harlem are not getting hot meals, and that there is a shelter in Harlem — they

View this post on Instagram

Been through some things in life, nothing quite like what’s going on now. None of us. But I got a call from Tony founder of @harlemgrown and shared with me that kids in Harlem are not getting hot meals, and that there is a shelter in Harlem — they need to eat. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I didn’t think twice and brought in my whole team. We rocked it out. Also feeding the restaurant community — La Familia picked up that tab…special thanks to @cheftommiv for her support as well. ⁣⁣ ⁣ Dropped another 85 bowls off at Harlem hospital.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Food is the connector. It keeps the faith, but I want to thank you all for believing in me to keep us connected.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Keep the hope. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ JJ⁣ ⁣ #harlem #nyc #givingback #fieldtrip #chefjj #makingadifference

A post shared by JJ Johnson (@chefjj) on

 

Watch Chef JJ’s full story with the Thrillist:

About FIELDTRIP

FIELDTRIP is a community-focused restaurant serving rice bowls to its Harlem neighbors. The fast-casual restaurant was built on the idea that rice is a global connector, and thus serves affordable, ethically sourced rice bowls topped with curries, veggies, and proteins.

 

In addition to being the owner of FIELDTRIP, Chef JJ is also the host of Just Eats with Chef JJ. The cooking show airs on CLEO TV on Saturdays at 12P/11C. Also, check your local listings for reruns throughout the week and weekends.

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