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NYC Restaurateurs React to the Possible Loss of Indoor Dining Next Week

Plus, seafood and rotisserie chicken hotspots Cervo’s and the Fly have reopened for sidewalk seating — and more intel

Chairs are overturned on a line of tables in the dining room of a restaurant. Lights are angled above them. Gary He/Eater

“Opening restaurants indoors at 50 percent capacity has the potential to do more damage than good”

Following announcements from the mayor and governor that they might push back the return to indoor dining on July 6, NYC restaurateurs are once again being forced to recalibrate their plans for reopening.

For most NYC restaurant owners, the possibility of delaying indoor dining has been received with mixed emotions — there’s frustration at the blow it represents to business in the short-term, but understanding that postponing may be best for recovery in the long-term. “The most important consideration right now is a potential second surge of infections coming to NYC, which would push many restaurants to a point of no return,” Nate Adler, co-owner of Gertie told Bloomberg in an interview. Some, like Ivy Mix, who co-owns Leyenda, felt that NYC was not ready for indoor dining and “weren’t planning to open up” next week, even if indoor dining approval went through.

Many others, though, purchased additional supplies, stocked up on food inventory, and re-hired staff in preparation for reopening at half-capacity on July 6. Those restaurateurs are now forced to bear the cost of the delay. “I have no problem with the government saying we can’t reopen, but they can’t change the message the week before,” Loring Place owner Dan Kluger tells Bloomberg. That toll isn’t just felt by restaurant owners — it’s also felt by their staff, many of whom have left unemployment to reassume indoor dining room positions, Hakan Swahn, owner of the two-Michelin starred Aquavit, tells Bloomberg.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents thousands of restaurants in the city, expressed disappointment over the last-minute shift. “Our small businesses urgently need certainty and immediate support on rent, expanded outdoor dining and other responsive policies if they are to have any real chance of survival and recovery,” he says in a statement.

In other news

— Greg Baxtrom, chef and owner of Maison Yaki in Prospect Heights, announced the first four chefs that the restaurant will be hosting through its Black entrepreneur series. From July 8 to August 30, chefs Jared Howard, Lani Halliday, Michelle Williams, and Mohamed Wahiba will be using the Maison Yaki kitchen space to dish up vegan pastries, fried chicken sandwiches, soul food, and Italian fare.

— MeMe’s Diner and Queer Soup Night are selling tote bags filled with specialty food items to raise money for the Okra Project, a New York City-based organization that prepares homemade meals for Black trans folks. The new initiative, called Totes Gay, sells totes that are filled with pantry staples made by LGBTQIA+-owned small businesses.

— A new pop-up sake bar called the Koji Club will be hosted by Oddfellows at the ice cream company’s Dumbo location, says founder Alyssa Mikiko DiPasquale. From July 6 to August 1, customers will be able to buy DiPasquale’s take-home sake kits along with a pint of ice cream.

— Seafood and rotisserie chicken hotspots Cervo’s and the Fly have reopened for takeout and sidewalk seating, according to co-owner Nialls Fallon. Cervo’s is open Wednesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the Fly is open the same time but Thursday through Saturday.

— The plan to turn three-blocks of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx into a 100-table Italian piazza appears to be gaining traction.

— Fany Gerson’s Mexican ice cream and sweets shop La Newyorkina is now selling churro ice cream sandwiches.

— East Village slice shop Nolita Pizza has permanently closed.

— It’s not forever: