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NYC

Feature

August 19, 2020
There’s No Plan For Indoor Dining, And Some Restaurant Owners Are Pissed
On Wednesday morning, the NYC Hospitality Alliance held a video conference with six restaurant owners demanding a timeline for indoor dining.

8/19/20

The NYC Hospitality Alliance held a press conference with six restaurant owners today demanding that Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo propose a timeline and plan for indoor dining in NYC.

Indoor dining was originally set to begin on July 6th, as part of New York City’s Phase 3 reopening plan. Since then, indoor dining has been put off indefinitely and thousands of New York City restaurants are now operating their businesses outdoors. Many have also closed down permanently.

Beyond Mayor de Blasio stating that, “The most important thing is to get to the point where we have a vaccine,” there has been no further mention from either the mayor or Governor Cuomo about the possibility of indoor dining in New York City. Now, some restaurant owners are demanding a transparent plan.

  • NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie had questions: “Why can you eat indoors in Yonkers in West Chester County but you cannot eat indoors 100 yards down the street in the Bronx? Why are restaurants open indoors in Nassau County on Long Island but not in Queens? ”

  • Massimo Felici, the owner of Vinum in Staten Island, says, “It’s very frustrating that I have friends and people I know on Long Island - which is not far from where I’m at - that have been operating for the past six to eight weeks with partial inside and the outdoors, which I wish we had. We could use that revenue.”

  • Many of the restaurant owners on the call stressed that they don’t expect indoor dining to start immediately. One of them was Tren’ness Woods-Black, the owner of Sylvia’s in Harlem: “There is simply no way that we, being the greatest city for dining in the world, can continue going on like this...We’re not asking to open tomorrow, we’re asking for the simplest thing. A plan. Some input, some direction, some light at the end of the tunnel, some answers to questions that so many of our employees have.”

  • Chef and Owner of Casa del Chef Bistro in Woodside Queens, Alfonso Zhicay, stressed the ability to properly budget for the future of his business. “I would love to invest more in the future business-wise, but I have no idea what will happen in the next month, in the next two months.” He says he already spent money buying equipment on outdoor dining. “Were not making enough money back.”

  • Almost all of the restaurant owners on the call mentioned staff layoffs as a result of the pandemic. George Constantinou, the owner of Bogota Latin Bistro, said that he laid off 100 out of 130 of the employees at his three restaurants in Park Slope. He noted that he’s still paying rent at “pre-Covid rates” and paying off business loans.

  • The question of indoor dining is especially urgent as restaurant owners anticipate the fall and winter, when outdoor dining will likely no longer be feasible. The owner of Anella in Greenpoint, Blair Papagni, said, “The most difficult part of looking at anything past November is the idea of having to lay off my staff again.” She also noted that there has been no guidance from the government regarding the types of outdoor heaters restaurants can use. “Given that we now have examples of what’s working, give us a plan.”

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