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Fine Dining Restaurants Say De Blasio’s Indecision on Indoor Dining Spells Doom

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Plus, sweet black-seeded watermelons are now available for home delivery in Brooklyn

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio sits at a table at a colorful outdoor seating area wearing a mask and gives the thumbs up Gary He/Eater

Fine dining restaurateurs say that de Blasio’s indecision could spell doom

Two months out from the expiration of New York City’s outdoor dining program, fine dining restaurateurs say that a lack of indoor dining could spell doom for the city’s upscale restaurants and bars. “Unless my [outdoor and delivery] business picks up, we can probably only stay open until the end of the year,” says Key Kim, owner of Japanese hand-roll favorite Maki Kosaka, in an interview with the New York Post this week. Kim added that other high-end sushi restaurants would likely not be able to survive if NYC does not reopen for indoor dining.

Chef-owner Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin said his restaurant — which offers no takeout, delivery, or outdoor seating — is ready to reopen for indoor dining as early as next month but could survive until next March if necessary. “But the majority of restaurants cannot [do that],” he told the Post. Already, more than 1,000 restaurants and bars have closed in New York City as a result of the pandemic — and many, many more are likely on the way.

At the time of writing, though, there are no concrete plans to bring back indoor dining this year. Late last week, Mayor de Blasio hinted that dining and other indoor activities could be on-hold until at least 2021. “If folks miss the theater, if they miss indoor dining, those things will be back. They’ll be back next year at some point,” he said at the time. A spokesperson with the mayor’s office later clarified that the comments were intended as general remarks on the city’s culture, not as policy. Even so, the casual comments followed weeks of mounting pressure from restaurant and bar owners to reopen the city for indoor dining ahead of October 31. Earlier this month, NYC restauranteurs renewed calls for a concrete plan that addresses the future of dining in the city, while a separate group of 100 restaurateurs in Brooklyn and Staten Island announced plans to sue the city over its refusal to allow eating and drinking indoors.

Per an August 21 interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” de Blasio says that he has “no plan” for allowing indoor dining to return.

In other news

— A Brooklyn pastor has been selling black-seeded watermelons out of a truck on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Empire Boulevard. The fruit, which is slightly sweeter than those usually found in New York, is available from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Delivery available within Brooklyn for $10. Call (470) 588-6507.

— The children of many Chinatown shop owners have returned to the city to help their parents during the pandemic. One result: More Chinatown shops are going online.

— Soul Fire Farm in Upstate New York, a BIPOC-centered farming community, launched its online store this week, with merchandise, frozen chickens (pick-up only), herbal teas, and salts.

— Popular Chinese dry pot restaurant MáLà Project has reopened the garden at its East Village location, with 26 seats for outdoor dining. Walk-in only.

— The most ridiculous menu items that bars are offering to comply with the State Liquor Authority’s new food requirement, the Bushwick edition.

— Hit New York chain Magnolia Bakery will now offer gluten-free banana pudding, according to a spokesperson with the bakery.

— Our condolences:

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