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More Plastic Outdoor Dining Enclosures Arrive in Manhattan

Plus, Thomas Keller’s iconic Columbus Circle restaurant Per Se opens next week for indoor dining — and more intel

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A small transparent house sits on top of a rooftop beside large potted plants. Inside, a table and two chairs is visible. Ampia [Official]

Tiny plastic domes, meet tiny plastic homes

As restaurateurs brace for the fall and winter weather ahead, elaborate outdoor dining set-ups continue to grow in number. This week the city gets a new entrant in the form of small plastic houses, which restaurants in multiple neighborhoods of Manhattan have built for their customers to dine in. Upper West Side restaurant Smoke Jazz Club is the latest business to install the set-up, while Financial District newcomer Ampia has been offering seating in “private rooftop greenhouses” since July. The tiny plastic homes come just weeks after tiny plastic domes began appearing on the sidewalks of several Upper West Side restaurants last month.

Despite their obvious popularity, officials elsewhere have raised concerns about the safety of dining in enclosed containers. In August, acclaimed San Francisco sushi restaurant Hashiri installed plastic domes for outdoor diners, only to remove them less than a month later. The city’s health department instructed the restaurant to remove the domes, as they do not provide sufficient airflow to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. (That, and the domes may have been constructed to separate outdoor diners from the city’s worsening homelessness crisis.)

No such orders have been issued here so far. According to the latest guidelines from Mayor Bill de Blasio, restaurants can put tents and other coverings over their outdoor dining areas, so long as at least 50 percent of the tent’s side walls remain open, while full tent enclosures are considered to be “indoors” and must adhere to the city’s indoor dining guidelines. Enclosed personal spaces — including plastic bubbles and domes — are allowed under the new regulations, but they must be equipped with proper ventilation to allow for regular air circulation.

In other news

— After two months away, Brooklyn’s beloved Doughnut Plant will reopen at its Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn locations, according to a spokesperson for the company. The Lower East Side and Queens outposts of the store are expected to open shortly.

— Gertie will be hosting Kristin Tice Studeman and Bryan Fountain, co-authors of Serving New York, for an outdoor celebration of the book’s hardcover release this Saturday, October 10 starting at 5 p.m.

— Thomas Keller’s iconic Columbus Circle restaurant Per Se opens next week with 50 seats offered indoors, due to the ongoing limits on indoor dining in NYC.

— From October 24 through November 3, mini-cupcake chain Baked by Melissa will offer customers who voted 10 percent off on their purchases at all store locations.

— The Nation is looking at the recovery efforts underway in Manhattan’s Chinatown and how the neighborhood may permanently change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

— A New Jersey restaurateur says he’s prepared to go to jail in order to keep operating his establishment at more than the 25 percent indoor dining limit set by the state.

— Gothamist’s Scott Lynch visits Crown Heights’s newest Guyanese restaurant, called German’s Soup, and notes that it’s “an excellent local option for good, inexpensive food.”

— City Harvest’s annual fall tasting event, BID, will be reformatted this year as an at-home dining experience with food from the Michelin-starred Cote.

— A thread: