Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Cadence Wright, 24, works at Banter Cafe on Sullivan street before indoor dining reopens in NYC. Photo courtesy pf Cadence Wright

Some NYC restaurant owners and staff are planning to march to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office on Monday to protest what they believe are extremely limiting restrictions that will harm the restaurant industry.

“The problem with the 25 percent  capacity cap is that it simply isn’t enough even when combined with outdoor seating.” said Mark Fox, owner of Sapien Foods and president of Fox Lifestyle Hospitality group, one of the head organizers of the march. “Fiscally, the vitality of the city will be gone. Thousands of restaurant workers will be unemployed all over again with no possibility of re-employment.”

President of Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group and owner of Sapien Foods, Mark Fox. Photo courtesy of Mark Fox

On Sept. 25, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on the Brian Lehrer Show that outdoor dining in New York City will be made “permanent and year-round”, to ensure safe eating experiences during the pandemic. But those familiar with the restaurant industry who are participating in the march say that city and state officials are not aware of the repercussions the restrictions will have.

“Should the restaurant industry be only allowed to operate at 25 percent t capacity, the majority of businesses will be closed for good by December.” said Brian Morrissey, general manager and food director at Bobby Van’s steakhouse in Manhattan. “The ripple effect of these economically irresponsible and detached decisions reach much farther than the common eye can see. My hope is that someone starts doing their homework.”

Since the mayor’s outdoor dining decree began on June 22, restaurants have been able to serve patrons and continue to remain open by installing more outdoor seating areas on sidewalks and curb ways, so long as neighboring businesses allow.  This solution worked in many capacities because the warm weather allowed it, however with winter fast approaching, not everyone in the restaurant industry is convinced that they will be able to thrive. 

“I don’t really think people are going to want to come in and eat outside in December when it’s cold out.” said Cadence Wright, 24, a server at Banter café in Greenwich Village. “We are a small place and I just don’t think operating at 25 percent capacity is going to be survivable for us. If we close, I don’t know where I can find another job.” 

Restaurants will be able to enclose outdoor seating in tents, but if the tent is fully enclosed the business will be under the same restrictions for restaurants using indoor dining.

Many restaurant owners and employees want their workplaces to resume the pre-pandemic business model, but with the recent reports of COVID clusters in some NYC communities, not everyone is convinced jumping immediately to 50 percent capacity indoors is the safest option. 

“Indoor dining hasn’t even begun yet, but I’m already worried.” said Maddie Taylor, 22, a server at a Manhattan restaurant. “I mean, we are outdoors and people will try and come in to use the bathroom or order and just not be wearing a mask at all or will say they have forgotten theirs. Who forgets a mask in the seventh month of a pandemic?” 

Those planning on marching on Monday are demanding that financial support be provided to restaurants and cafes in NYC, as well as more realistic restrictions, but make it clear that they support safety and health precautions during the pandemic. 

“We fully supported the lockdown and would fully support additional measures in the future if necessary.” said Fox. “But if mom and pops don’t receive financial assistance within the next six weeks, then between 60 and 80 percent will close permanently. The repercussions from this would be devastating.”

 


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020

A second wave of the coronavirus creates travel woes in Beijing

Hannah Zhang June 29, 2020