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NYC Restaurants Get One Step Closer to Firing Up Propane Heaters Again

Plus, subterranean food hall Turnstyle appears to be making a comeback — and more intel

Propane heaters are set up next to outdoor tables at Antique Garage Soho on October 15, 2020 in New York City. 
NYC restaurants were allowed to use propane heaters for outdoor dining last winter.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

NYC restaurants should be able to legally reignite last year’s propane heaters after all, at least according to one local politician. Council member Keith Powers, who represents areas of Manhattan including the Upper East Side, Times Square, and Murray Hill, recently introduced legislation to the City Council in late November that, if passed, would reinstate propane heater usage for outdoor dining.

“Throughout the pandemic, outdoor dining has been one of the most successful and innovative measures to support local restaurants and allow New Yorkers to safely socialize with one another,” Powers said in a statement. “The use of propane heaters has played a quintessential role in that success, particularly during the colder months. With winter on the horizon, COVID-19 cases increasing, and restaurants still desperately in need of support, this legislation will ensure the survival of local eateries, strengthen small businesses, and keep New Yorkers safe.”

Restaurants were first allowed to use propane heaters as an emergency measure for outdoor dining last winter, while indoor dining was banned amid the ongoing pandemic. In October, the mayor’s office prohibited restaurants from using propane heaters for outdoor dining again this year due to fire safety concerns (no fires were reported from propane heaters last year). Natural gas and electric heaters are still allowed, but the ban prompted outcry, with mayor-elect Eric Adams writing an open letter along with Powers advocating for de Blasio to reverse the decision. Now, as the city prepares for another mid-pandemic winter while another new COVID-19 variant sparks headlines, Powers is pushing to legalize propane heaters for outdoor dining once again.

Subterranean food hall Turnstyle is bouncing back

Turnstyle, the underground food hall located inside the Columbus Circle subway station, is showing signs of recovery, Crain’s New York reports, after losing much of its customer base with the pandemic declines in mass transit ridership. Eight stores have opened in the market in the past six months, according to market developer Susan Fine, and some vendors have been able to work out rent relief programs with the food hall.

Business is booming for celebrity chef Eyal Shani’s restaurant empire

Back above ground, celebrity chef and Miznon owner Eyal Shani — also known as the proprietor behind fancy Hell’s Kitchen spot HaSalon — has multiple expansion plans in the works, the chef tells the New York Post. A new HaSalon spot just opened in Miami, a Hudson Yards restaurant dubbed Naked Tomato is opening this week, and another downtown Manhattan restaurant is in the works. In total, Shani’s restaurant group has grown from 25 to 37 locations globally since March 2020.

Chef Daniel Boulud partners with swanky Mandarin Oriental for resident-only food menus

Luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental opened a new resident-only building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and the company has signed chef Daniel Boulud to exclusively head up the food for the space. New Yorkers who live in the building will be able to order food from a Boulud-curated all-day menu straight to their homes, according to a press release on the partnership.