The New York bistro owner finds the lifeline in fried chicken


When New York’s chef and co-owner of the bistro, Laurence Edelman, started a side project in the restaurant at the end of 2018 that offered ready-to-eat fried chicken and side dishes for delivery, he had no idea that less than two years later a pandemic would trigger the service as the only one functioning Part of the company.

“We set it up in response to the creation of so much business that is generated by online delivery orders. We could never have known that it was vital for our survival,” said Edelman of Poulet Sans Tête or Chicken Without Head , Launched at the end of 2018 with his business partner Micheline Gaulin.

Chicken-on-the-run service was expanded as all but essential stores were closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while the couple’s main business – a casual gourmet restaurant called Left Bank in the West Village neighborhood – quickly closed after nine years. “We had a really big drop in sales – about 95%,” said Edelman.

Edelman and his partner had around two dozen employees as waiters and cooks and are now dependent on themselves and two others who prepare and sell around 30 chickens daily with side dishes, sauces and sandwiches. This results from the pre-pandemic volume of 12 to 20 cooked birds.

Laurence Edelman, chef and co-owner of New York’s Left Bank restaurant and in-house roast chicken delivery service called Poulet Sans Tete, who became a lifeline (and future business brand) when the corona virus shutdown.

Laurence Edelman

What started as a pop-up company “became something that can grow in a very twisted and ironic sense,” said Edelman. “We were very lucky to have a delivery-only concept. Now that we’re one month old, that’s all we’re doing now.”

The business upheavals in the midst of respiratory disease, which killed more than 50,000 Americans on Friday morning, has also prompted Edelman to deliver meals to doctors, nurses, and other workers in New York City hospitals funded online by donations from his chicken customers .

“We are giving our customers the opportunity to donate a meal to a hospital worker for $ 10,” he said, noting that the idea was inspired by a customer who placed a $ 350 catering contract for delivery to the hospital nearby Lenox Hill Hospital. “from the goodness of his heart.”

Edelman delivered 455 meals to hospital employees in three weeks, and another 226 were funded through donations of more than $ 7,000.

“At first I only showed up with food, now I have contact and things are better organized,” he said of his twice-weekly trips to medical centers. Hospital workers do not always have the option of eating a meal during the day. “So it is better for them to know that food is on the way,” he added.

Healthcare workers face benefits and cut wages when the coronavirus breaks out

“We make enough money to buy the food and have a few people pay a little,” Edelman said of Poulet Sans Tête, who said that the supply business would not be enough to pay the rent under normal conditions.

The small business owner said he tried to reach an agreement with his landlord and offered to pay half of the usual rent for the next three months, with the total amount being deferred until October. “They said nobody paid rent and they weren’t really able to do business right now.”

Edelman and Gaulin are busy filling out financial aid documents in the form of grants and federal and city loans to keep their options open and hoping to eventually recruit the workers who have had to lay them off.

“The West Bank is closed, but Poulet Sans Tête is operating and keeping people busy, which is so important,” he said. “Much of the competition, including ourselves, has closed, so Poulet Sans Tête really has a chance to shine.”