Ever Forward A Film About Restaurants in the Era of COVID-19

Restaurants Reopen

Sizzle Reel

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the United States, 45 states had implemented "stay-at-home" orders and mandated that every restaurant in the state close their dining room to dine-in service. With over 1 million restaurants in the country and the vast majority of them closed, up to 11 million employees out of work and an uncertain future, the industry faces an unprecedented crisis and has to ask itself, "Now what...?"

Film Synopsis

A visual journey of the city's restaurant scene at a time when it is almost unrecognizable. With all restaurant dining rooms closed due to COVID-19, how is the city's heartbeat coping with this unimaginable loss? How are those empty dining rooms now being used? And what are chefs and restaurateurs doing during this downtime? Through interviews in now-empty dining rooms with owners of some of NYC's landmark dining establishments, we learn about what the transition has been like, how it is affecting the hundreds of thousands of formerly employed, and what needs to happen in order for an entire multibillion dollar industry to restart from the ground up.

As the city returns to life, we follow along with restaurateurs as they navigate new realities that the industry must face and the challenges that come with it. Persevering is in their blood. But will it be enough to overcome the economic truths of running a business with government mandates that require them to do less revenue? With economic relief coming to an end, will the government step in to save an industry that has been decimated by the pandemic? Can the industry rebuild with a renewed vision on equality and fairness?

Featuring Interviews With

Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Jean-Georges Restaurants

Andrew Carmellini of NoHo Hospitality Group

Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune

Gabriel Stulman of Happy Cooking Hospitality

Carlos Quirarte & Matt Kliegman of The Smile

Justin Sievers of Bar Primi

And more...


The virus has hit New York City particularly hard and it was the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the U.S. for several months. It continues to be the only place in the nation that has a total ban on indoor dining. There are over 25,000 incredibly diverse eating and drinking establishments in the five boroughs. Our film seeks to explore how this crisis is affecting an industry that is at the heart of the city's cultural, economic and nutritional foundation. If measures are not taken to save restaurants, we run the risk of making our beloved city bland.

Gabrielle Hamilton at Prune
Interviewing Gabriel Stulman @ Fairfax
Jean-Georges being interviewed at his namesake restaurant on Central Park


  • Show the different ways that restaurants have reinvented their space. Some are staying open for delivery, some are providing meals for essential workers or the community, some are now food markets, some have stayed closed to help stop the spread, and yet others have turned to creative uses for rejuvenation.
  • Investigate how we can use this "reset" of the industry to bring about change and create better equality in how our businesses are run, particularly for minorities
  • Investigate how this situation has sparked a political movement and camaraderie within the restaurant industry.
  • Learn about how chefs and restaurateurs are dealing with the personal struggles of closing their businesses and potentially losing what they are so passionate about.
  • Bring to light the "silver linings" of this time and how we can use those to inform the way we work in the future.
  • Compare a variety of restaurants and see how the shutdown has affected each differently. What can we learn about the business model that can help us in the future?
  • Follow along with restaurants during the reopening phases to document the struggle to survive.


Justin Sievers - justsiev1@gmail.com

Blake Babbitt - blakeababbitt@gmail.com

Created By
Justin Sievers