Chef Burke at 1776 by David Burke

Excerpt from

It was tough. It was scary. It was devastating. Still, despite the hardships, the many restrictions, the ongoing labor shortage and ongoing supply chain issues — many restaurants last year did good, if not gangbuster, business.

Take Antonio Trovato, chef-owner of Trovato’s Due, an elegant, white-tablecloth Italian restaurant in Oakland, for example. Although he said he and his brother, Pasquale, a co-owner, used up their surplus savings to keep afloat the first year, “we are back to normal now,” he said. “We did good last year because people came out.”  

Gumpa of Vesta Wood-Fired in East Rutherford said: “We had a great year. It would have been a stellar year,” he added, if nearby MetLife Stadium hadn’t canceled all sporting and musical events. 

Some restaurants even did better than they ever had.

Chef Mike’s in South Seaside Park is among them. In 2019, the year before the pandemic, he said he had the best summer ever. In 2020, he lost $1 million. Last year? He not only made up the million he lost, but took in $700,000 more than he had in 2019, his best year. 

“I wake up every day and thank my blessings,” he said. “I’m a lucky man. We survived so much.”

Celebrity chef David Burke, a Fort Lee resident, also has done well. He opened seven restaurants during the pandemic, including 1776 in Morristown, Red Horse in Rumson and Orchard Park in East Brunswick. He is also culinary director of Ventanas in Fort Lee and Son Cubano in West New York.  

“We thrived,” Burke said. “The crisis got my nervous juices going. I knew I had to fight.”

But, of course, restaurants are facing still more challenges. 

Click here to read entire article on

Related Posts