Lifestyle & Culture

[Your Name Here] to the Pandemic Rescue

January 28, 2021

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What a grand, and probably unexpected, gesture. The Manhattan restaurant Finestra publicly thanked Ranawat Orthopaedics for “sponsoring” one of the bubble tents that have made outdoor dining more possible in this pandemic winter. / MyLittleBird photos.

I KNOW you can donate a gazillion dollars and get a hospital wing named after you. Fork over a monthly amount from $325 to $600 (or even more) and you can join the Adopt-a-Highway program, taking credit for removing litter from a busy stretch of road. And I’ve even seen that  generous people like actor Gary Sinise and philanthropists Billie and George Rose are publicly thanked on transport vans they have donated to charity.

I did NOT know, however, you could sponsor a dining bubble to help out a restaurant on a New York sidewalk. I stand corrected.

As we’ve all read, restaurants across the country have been coming up with inventive ways to feed people outdoors, where pandemic dining is safer. One place in my New York neighborhood has been making a valiant, evolving effort. During the summer, of course, things were easier. Indoor dining was closed down for months, but Finestra, which sits at the corner of York Avenue and 73rd Street on the Upper East Side, already had a little elevated porch under an awning out front. It normally held six or eight tables, but social-distancing took the number down to four. So the owners ran a strip of Astroturf-type “grass” along the sidewalk, a step below the porch, and another one on the side street, enabling them to put out six more tables.

As fall morphed into winter, things got a bit more serious. So the owners purchased canopies to extend over the green carpeting, erecting and disassembling the canopies daily. Winds picked up and they bought cabana-type structures with clear plastic “walls.” But the situation was less than ideal.

A week or so ago I noticed that Finestra had caught on to a possibility I had seen only in blog posts—clear plastic dining “igloos” that zip up two sides, ensconcing diners inside, one table per igloo. These igloos—there seem to be many variations—are branded Alvantor, which calls them bubble tents.

But the things cost about $500 each. And after shelling out for the earlier, less-successful solutions, buying five or six bubble tents certainly added up.

Enter Ranawat Orthopaedics. The orthopedic practice, operating in the shadow of the Hospital for Special Surgery, which lays claim to being the foremost orthopedic hospital in the country, decided to help out what must be its owners’ or staff’s favorite Italian-style place. How did they help? I don’t know; they haven’t answered my calls. But I know they did because of the paper signs that are taped to one of the bubble tents: “Sponsored by Ranawat Orthopaedics,” giving the address of the practice on East 70th Street.

That’s about all Finestra has to say about the “sponsorship.” As he took down the tents for the night, one server would only say, “They helped our business a lot.” I can only imagine.

—Nancy McKeon

Actor Gary Sinise has a decades-long history of helping military and first responders. Sinise is a Chicago guy, but after 9/11/2001 he began supporting the New York Fire Department through his Gary Senise Foundation. This “Lt. Dan Van” takes care of fire families in need of help. “Lt. Dan” is the name of Senise’s band, which plays around the world for the USO and was the name of his character in “Forest Gump.” / Photo from the FDNY Family Transport Foundation website.

Philanthropists George and Billie Ross of Long Island donated this transport van to the Ronald McDonald House on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Their philanthropy includes other medical facilities and ancillary services targeting, among other things, children with cancer. George, a successful lawyer, was a senior counsel to the Trump Organization and one of Donald Trump’s two advisers on the reality show “The Apprentice.” / MyLittleBird photo.


2 thoughts on “[Your Name Here] to the Pandemic Rescue

  1. Nancy McKeon says:

    Amen to that.

  2. Carol says:

    So nice to hear about “ giving back” or “paying it forward”. Take your pick!
    We of limited means need to do what we can within our means, even after this stressful period is over.

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