On September 9, New York City’s pandemic government frontliners, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio, announced that NYC restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning September 30.
While this seems like progress, the hospitality industry—which has suffered through mandated closures and has had to adapt creatively to newly enacted outdoor dining laws this summer—has mixed feelings about the rollout.
An example of questions that have gone unanswered by the local government include: How can we operate at 25% capacity without financial aid or assistance? While the extension of outdoor dining is exciting, what will it look like when temperatures drop and we’re in the dead of winter? Can you share a concrete plan of how we should cohesively honor this new mandate while keeping our staff safe?
To get a better glimpse into the wide range of feelings and questions the new announcement really evokes, we turned to restaurant owners + operators in NYC to hear their perspectives:
“It is still tough, [we’re] not making enough sales [to pay] the restaurant’s expenses,” said Satoru Yasumatsu, co-owner of o.d.o by ODO and HALL by ODO. He believes that restaurants will still need to keep outdoor dining as an option in order to stay afloat.
“This is a small step in the right direction,” agreed Chris Barrish, owner of Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. “However, we know 25% capacity is not enough to help rebuild the industry and many of our fellow restaurants won’t survive without additional support. We completely agree that we need to take indoor reopening day-by-day, and we’re grateful to finally have a proposed way forward.”
The Pineapple Club’s Operations Manager Travis Odegard is just happy to safely get people back. “We are super excited to finally have a grand opening after working on this [project] for over a year,” he said, speaking of their East Village bar and restaurant that opened this May during the pandemic. “We are really looking forward to having everyone into our space for a drink and we wish our city success in safely reopening.”
Even with a number of mixed opinions, one common thread is very clear: our city’s beloved restaurants are doing their best, but struggling to survive.
So, whether you plan to participate in indoor/outdoor dining or are strictly sticking to ordering takeout, make sure you show these neighborhood heroes some love by tipping extra (yes, even on top of the 10% COVID-19 Recovery Charge added to your bill). Restaurants have been there for us celebrating our important moments, big and small—now we need to show up for them now however we can. #NewYorkTough