Café du Soleil has filed a class-action lawsuit against insurance company AXA Financial to cover the losses they’ve incurred during the pandemic. According to a recent Crain’s article about the lawsuit, AXA responded that they would not cover any damages related to the Covid-19 virus because a clause specifically states it will not cover “any virus, bacterium or other microorganism” that causes illness.
Lawyers for Café du Soleil, located at 2723 Broadway (104th Street), stated that this type of characterization is geared towards food poisoning and not a national pandemic. “The Covid-19 pandemic is much closer to a natural disaster than a ‘loss due to virus or bacteria,’” said an attorney for the restaurant.
In the meantime, the restaurant is doing everything they can to survive and not shut down.
“I’m working on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s a fight, and we are fighting,” owner Alain Chevreux said in an interview on Sunday afternoon.
I asked Alain if he could comment on the lawsuit he has filed against his insurance company. He said that he had no further comment except that his law firm is working on it. He said he will spend his time focusing on how to save his business.
Alain acknowledges that the lawsuit will likely be a long process, and the next phase will be negotiations. He tells us other restaurant owners have been in touch with him as a result of the media attention.
Even when the restaurant shutdown ends and he can have customers dine-in, Alain says he does not think they will reopen at capacity. “We probably will reopen at 30% capacity,” he said. Alain estimates that around 25% of restaurants in New York will not reopen at all. He is hoping to stay afloat with takeout and delivery during this waiting period.
“We are doing okay, but it’s a work in process. We are learning every day, because this is new territory for us. It’s not that we didn’t do takeout and delivery before, but it was not the major part of our business.”
Alain wanted our readers to know that they have expanded their takeout range from 120th Street all the way down to 59th street. He tells us they are seeing some positive results from the expansion.
Although things are picking up, Alain says his restaurant could not survive just doing these takeout orders.
“This is still a losing proposition at this point; the goal is to try to minimize the damages,” he said.
According to the Crain’s article, if insurers had to pay out restaurants for damages related to the pandemic, it would bankrupt the entire industry. “That’s why viruses were specifically excluded from plans starting in 2003, after the SARS epidemic provided a warning of what could come,” states the article.
President Trump has weighed in on this matter after he was approached by big names in the restaurant industry such as Wolfgang Puck and Jean George.
According to Crain’s, Trump stated he “would like to see the insurance companies pay if they need to pay, if it’s fair. And they know what’s fair. And I know what’s fair.”
The best way to ensure our favorite spots will be able to survive the pandemic is to order from them directly. Café du Soleil is offering specials each day of the week, including a Monday night steamed mussels with garlic fries, and a Thursday night three-course dinner which includes a bottle of French wine.
For the full menu and specials, please visit Café du Soleil’s website here and call them at (212) 316-5000.