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Republican State Lawmakers Push for More Restaurant Aid as Indoor Dining Remains Limited

Plus, a look at the 32-floor Margaritaville resort planned for Times Square this spring — and more intel

New York City Restaurants Face Continued Uncertainty Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NY Republicans put forward their plan to save the state’s restaurants

Republican state lawmakers have put forward a restaurant relief plan, which they say supports an industry still holding its breath for the return of higher-capacity indoor dining. The bill, sponsored by state senator George Borrello, coincides with the launch of NYC’s first takeout-only Restaurant Week and prohibits third-party delivery companies from charging higher fees than they did on March 1, 2020. The NY City Council already passed a similar measure in August 2020 — extending a 20 percent cap on fees for NYC restaurateurs until 90 days after they are allowed to operate at full-capacity for indoor dining — though the new proposal is statewide.

The Republican-backed plan also includes proposals to extend restaurant liquor licenses for one year, temporarily lift state taxes on food and drink sales at restaurants and bars, provide small businesses with an additional 90 days to pay fines from local and state agencies, and redirect fines from the State Liquor authority into a business relief fund. As the New York Daily News has pointed out, several of these measures are nearly identical to bills passed by Democrat state lawmakers a week ago.

When asked about the proposal, Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pointed to the governor’s state budget proposal, which earmarks $130 million in relief for restaurants and small businesses but is contingent on $15 billion in funding from the federal government. “The Governor just laid out a bold and far-reaching plan to reopen and fully restart our economy safely after a year of fighting this pandemic, including $130 million relief plan for restaurants and small businesses — but let’s be clear all of our decisions are based in data and science, not on politics and what you think would make people happy, public health be damned,” Azzopardi tells the New York Post.

In other news

— Calaca, a popular mezcal bar and taqueria in Bed-Stuy, is leaving its longtime home on Putnam Avenue on January 31 to open at a new location in the neighborhood. Owner David Hurtado has started a GoFundMe campaign to assist with moving and renovation costs.

— Upper East Side cocktail bar Festivál has temporarily closed following a robbery at the restaurant. This GoFundMe campaign helps cover damages from the break-in.

— Ty Brown, owner of the Bergen in Crown Heights, is looking to bring 10 new community fridges to the neighborhood.

— Godiva announced this week that it is closing or selling all 128 of its brick-and-mortar locations in the United States and Canada, including this one in Forest Hills.

— With occupancy rates down roughly 30 percent from a year ago, New York City hotels have become homes to ghost kitchens.

— Here comes Margaritaville, the 32-floor resort that Jimmy Buffet has planned for Times Square later this year. It’s slated to include five restaurants and bars.

— Scott Lynch at Gothamist gives the newly opened Bellucci Pizza in Astoria a thumbs up.

— I yield my time: