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NYC Restaurateurs Fear 50 Percent Indoor Dining May Not Return In November

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Plus, Boerum Hill institution Brooklyn Inn just reopened — and more intel

People walk by outdoor dining tents built in Korea Town as the city continues the re-opening efforts following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on October 17, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Restaurateurs worry that the expansion to 50 percent capacity indoors may not be allowed after all

NYC restaurateurs and industry lobbyists are concerned that Gov. Andrew Cuomo may not allow the city’s restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity starting in November as originally planned, the New York Post reports.

When the city’s return to indoor dining was first announced in September, Cuomo added that restaurants can plan to return to 50 percent capacity — matching the rest of the state’s current restaurant occupancy levels — on November 1. The governor’s office did not specify which health metrics would guide the decision. Since then, a handful of neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens were shut back down and restaurants in those areas were limited again to takeout and delivery temporarily after case positivity rates spiked.

Owners and industry trade groups have been pressing Cuomo’s office for indications on whether or not the capacity expansion will go forward as planned, but they’ve heard nothing in response, according to the Post. The silence is leaving some restauranteurs struggling on whether or not to plan for and financially invest in the extra precautionary measures needed to bring their dining rooms to 50 percent capacity.

A spokesperson for Cuomo said in response that “as cases surge across the country and with the threat of a second wave on the horizon, we are continuing with this cautious, science-based approach so we can protect our progress and avoid going back to the hell we experienced in March and April.” The spokesperson declined to provide additional comment to Eater on whether or not the capacity restrictions will be lifted in the coming days.

In other news

— After rumors swirled that Peaches HotHouse in Fort Greene was shutting down, the restaurant confirmed to Brownstoner that it will live on. The owner is giving up the indoor dining space but will still be operating takeout and delivery from the Brooklyn location. Winterized outdoor seating may be installed as well.

— Boerum Hill institution Brooklyn Inn reopened this past weekend for the first time since the pandemic hit the city. It is reportedly the borough’s oldest bar still in operation, with roots dating back to 1851.

— Champion Coffee is closing down its Greenpoint location at 1107 Manhattan Avenue this Friday after 15 years in business. The owner will be hosting a garage sale on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sell off Champion’s wares at the shop.

— Harlem bodega owner Momma Zee has launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe in an effort to help keep the struggling shop’s doors open through the pandemic. Arizona Tea will be matching all donations up to $25,000.

— Former Jewel Bako executive chef Mitsunori Isoda has taken over the kitchen at Omakase Room in the West Village, according to a restaurant spokesperson. The restaurant is now known as Omakase Room by Mitsu, and the chef will be offering a 14-course omakase for $160 with a menu that changes twice per season.

— Heard it here first: