There are more than 27,000 restaurants, bars, and cafes in New York City. Or at least, there were before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite efforts to prevent the loss of cultural institutions and economic drivers embodied in these eateries, the New York Times estimated that more than 1,000 closed their doors for good by September. Some of those lost may yet return, but in the meantime efforts to make the most of the Open Restaurants Program represent a key component of the city’s life and well being which has had to undertake rapid adaptation to survive.
This photo essay examines some of the steps being taken to keep doors open throughout September to November of 2020. Uncertainty reigns in many businesses, even among psychics. Businesses like LaserCutz near Industry City in Brooklyn have shifted from architectural detailing to making sneeze guards, while dining establishments in the Village try to forge identities and stake out a space where customers can weather the winter.
Construction of outdoor seating areas has kept contractors busy through the pandemic. As winter approaches and the seating areas become more permanent like this West 4th Street enclosure start to display more attention to aesthetics. Photo By Justin McGown
Oleksandr Malyugin shows off one of the machines he has built in his Brooklyn fabrication shop, LaserCutZ. This is a CNC machine which can cut shapes out of plastic or wood. Photo By Justin McGown
One of Malyugin’s custom built laser cutters demonstrates runs through a metal cutting demo. Using high intensity lasers it can cut cleanly and quickly through metal, and is used to make architectural features and elements of sneeze guards. Photo By Justin McGown
Malyugin shows off a completed plexiglass guard ready to be shipped to a wholesaler. LaserCutz provides both large custom orders and standardized formats. Photo By Justin McGown
Construction continues after sunset at many Bleecker Street businesses as they rush to prepare winterized outdoor accomadations. Photo By Justin McGown
Carbone Restaurant on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village, bathed in red from outdoor heaters and their distinctive neon sign. Photo By Justin McGown
Diners are rendered indistinct behind plastic sheeting outside The Grizzly Pear on MacDougal Street. Like many eateries in the are it is in the process of upgrading its outdoor seating to work in the winter. Photo By Justin McGown
With electrical work adding considerable cost and time to outdoor seating areas under the Open Restaurants program many opt for battery operated lights. These facilities require an extra thorough cleaning after every setting, and a bottle of hand sanitizer has become by far the most popular center piece of the season. Photo By Justin McGown
A Houston Street psychic shop takes safety precautions, and a bottle of hand sanitizer joins crystal balls, tarot cards, and other divination tools. The timeline for the end of COVID-19 is unclear. Photo By Justin McGown
The loss of parking and proliferation of outdoor dining mean that on many crowded Village streets bikes have become one of the fastest ways to get around. Photo By Justin McGown