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NYC Bars Must Offer a “Sit-Down Experience” To Comply With New Outdoor Dining Guidelines

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Plus, two new Michelin-starred restaurants open their doors for outdoor dining this week — and more intel

A person in an orange beanie handles pieces of chicken at a tabletop grill. In the background, diners sit at tables and wait to order food.
Di An Di in Greenpoint
Gary He/Eater

Bar snacks aren’t enough to get around new SLA guidelines

Snacks like chips, popcorn, and nuts don’t meet the new food requirements that Gov. Andrew Cuomo set for bars and restaurants last week, according to updated language from the State Liquor Authority, that was published Tuesday night. The state-run agency now says that bars are responsible for ensuring “that patrons are enjoying a sit-down experience” with enough food to be shared by a small group. The New York Post first reported on the updated guidelines.

Not unlike Gov. Cuomo’s regulations around takeout cocktails, the SLA specifies that bars must now serve food that is “similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soups.” Salads, wings, hotdogs, and other foods all meet the criteria of the new guidelines, whether they’re fresh, processed, precooked, or frozen. Notably, the guidelines add that enough food must be purchased to “sufficiently serve the number of people in the party.” Food does not need to be purchased with every round of drinks, the SLA says, but enough food must be ordered with the first round. The goal, the guidelines say, is that customers have “a sit-down dining experience among a small group with drinks... a meal, and not a drinking, bar-type experience.”

Gov. Cuomo announced the first part of this new set of rules last week, as part of his ongoing effort to make NYC bars and restaurants enforce compliance with social distancing and takeout booze regulations. The new guidelines — which also instated a controversial “three strikes” system — came on the heels of hundreds of complaints in recent weeks made to the city about social-distancing violators.

In other news

— A coalition of 25 Bed-Stuy-based restaurateurs is calling for rent and utility relief from the federal and state government, as well as a permanent reduction in third-party delivery fees from 30 to 20 percent. Profits for some restaurants in the neighborhood are down as much as 60 to 80 percent, according to a spokesperson for the group.

— Two new restaurants join the growing list of Michelin-starred restaurants open for outdoor dining. Chef Hiroki Odo has reopened the one-star Odo for outdoor seating in Flatiron today, meanwhile chef Emma Bengtsson’s two-star Midtown restaurant Aquavit reopens this Friday, July 24.

— Dinner at Casa Nomad this Saturday will be accompanied by live Latin Afro-Cuban music starting at 5 p.m., an effort from chef and owner Yvan Lemoine to liven up the neighborhood after many of the neighboring businesses on Broadway have closed.

— Gramercy Park’s modern Indian restaurant Gupshup has teamed up with neighboring ice cream and coffee shop Caffe Panna on a decadent new dessert, made from caramel, ice cream, cookies, and rum. Gupshup will spike the concoction with a shot of espresso, chai, or additional rum upon request.

— Kyle Knall, the chef responsible for cooking up “destination-worthy” food at the Equinox Hotel’s Electric Lemon restaurant, shared that he will be leaving New York City after 12 years.

— The Hudson Square Business Improvement District has set up “parklets,” essentially furnished parking spaces, so that restaurants in the neighborhood can seat more customers.

— A second location of popular East Harlem bakery Baked Cravings is in the works for the East Village, according to company CEO Craig Wilson.

— Is there a place for dance floors in NYC after COVID-19?

— Wait for it: