In a Pandemic, Can Any Restaurant Story Have a Happy Ending?
Vegan icon Isa Chandra Moskowitz gets inspired by her punk past with a Covid-era cookzine
On September 21, Isa Chandra Moskowitz dropped an earnest note into the rotten narcotic of election-season Twitter: “Hey journalists, I have a really good story about a restaurant that stayed in business during covid by doing a cookzine and switching to a delivery friendly menu. Pls reach out. Oh ps it’s my restaurant.”
Effective. I DM’ed her.
Moskowitz, the vegan cookbook author, chef, and restaurateur, was tweeting from Omaha, Nebraska, where she opened her first restaurant, Modern Love, in 2014. She launched the spinoff in her hometown, Brooklyn, in 2016, and decided to head back to Omaha in March to tend to her original spot, where she’s been throughout the pandemic.
“I don’t know if it’s some version of doom-scrolling, and people just want to hear how terrible things are, but there’s not really a lot of positive coverage of how people in the restaurant industry are dealing with this,” Moskowitz told me a couple of weeks later on the phone. “I thought it would be kind of nice to share information with other businesses that are struggling or not doing as well as they could be, of how we’ve been surviving.”
‘I thought it would be kind of nice to share information with other businesses that are struggling or not doing as well as they could be, of how we’ve been surviving.’
Six months into the pandemic, Modern Love Community Cookzine still warm from the printer, Moskowitz floweth over with advice and encouragement for her restaurant industry mates. “Anybody who’s been through a brunch service can get through dealing with a Square rep,” she said (which someone should put on a shirt). But at the outset of the pandemic, “Both restaurants were doing well. They were profitable. Reservations were full. And we employed 35 people at each location. I was panicked about business but more like, ‘Oh my God if we don’t close, we’re putting everybody in danger.’”