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NYC Restaurateurs Debate Whether to Use New COVID-19 Surcharge

Plus, Grand Tea and Imports in Chinatown is accepting donations after a fire tore through its building last night — and more intel

A view of 46th Street which has been temporarily converted to “Restaurant Row” for outdoor dining during the fourth phase of the coronavirus pandemic reopening on September 06, 2020 in New York, New York. Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Restaurateurs voice concerns about utilizing new COVID-19 surcharge

Restaurant owners are grappling with whether to use a new emergency measure that City Council approved this week allowing NYC restaurants to add a COVID-19 surcharge of up to 10 percent to diner’s bills, the New York Times reports.

While the extra revenue would be helpful to offset operating costs, some restaurateurs say they are concerned that the additional charge will scare off customers. A restaurant owner in Little Italy, Nick Criscitelli, told the Times that he won’t be adding the surcharge to bills as it’s difficult already for his customers to come to the restaurant during this time.

Philippe Massoud, the owner of Lebanese restaurant Ilili in Flatiron, says that he may add a small surcharge of up to 3 percent while explaining the current pandemic-related operating costs like masks, gloves, and outdoor dining buildouts, to customers.

The surcharge, which comes before tax on the bill, can only be applied to in-person dining tickets, not takeout and delivery checks, the Times reports. Surcharges have been historically been illegal to use in NYC, although the practice is allowed elsewhere in the state. The temporary surcharge — set to expire 90 days after indoor dining returns at full capacity — will be available for use after Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supports the measure, signs the new bill into law.

In other news

— The NYPD is still issuing tickets to street vendors months after Mayor Bill de Blasio moved compliance enforcement out from under the NYPD’s purview, The City reports.

— Multi-generational family business Grand Tea and Imports in Chinatown was heavily damaged last night in a fire that tore through the business’s building. The shop is accepting donations for financial support to cover the cost of the damages here.

— Crown Heights neighborhood bar owner Claire Sprouse of Hunky Dory runs through her Sunday routine with the New York Times.

— Brooklyn brewery Other Half is opening a second taproom and production facility in October at Domino Park in Williamsburg, according to a spokesperson for the company.

— Williamsburg all-day cafe Gertie has wrapped up its summer menu of shrimp rolls and cheeseburgers and is now converting into a Jewish deli for the fall, according to a restaurant spokesperson. The new menu includes corned beef reubens and turkey pastrami club sandwiches. Gertie will also be launching a pop-up series starting on October 1 and running until the election in November featuring food from restaurants like recently-closed West-bourne and Vietnamese hotspot Di an Di. Proceeds will be donated to organizations fighting voter suppression.

—Welcome weekend news:

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