Nearly a year after it temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the iconic French brasserie Balthazar is gearing up for a reopening. The restaurant will reopen on March 24 with 102 seats for outdoor dining spread out over its sidewalk and roadside seating, and 35 percent seating in the dining room, restaurateur Keith McNally tells Eater. The bakery next door will also open the same day.
Balthazar closed its dining room on March 16, the same day that the state’s shutdown order went into effect limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery only. Initially, the restaurant remained open for takeout and delivery, but then closed later that week on a Sunday citing the continued uncertainty around the virus and the safety of customers and staff.
Later in the summer as COVID-19 cases dropped, some of McNally’s other restaurants like Morandi and Pastis reopened for outdoor dining, but Balthazar remained closed. Even following the return of indoor dining this year at 25 percent capacity, Balthazar didn’t immediately announce plans for a reopening. But with indoor dining now open at 35 percent capacity, the restaurant is moving forward.
Balthazar’s outdoor setup has been created in partnership with the restaurant-reservation service Resy, which is owned by American Express. The company has been creating outdoor seating areas for restaurants throughout the past year, and Balthazar’s seating is part of a new effort called Outdoor Villages, and includes other notable establishments like Harlem’s Sylvia’s, and Prospect Heights’ Olmsted.
Many large high end establishments have chosen to remain closed since the start of the pandemic, opting not to rely on a mix of takeout and delivery, which most restaurants continue to say is not enough to sustain business. Balthazar’s opening, though, could indicate a similar move for other high end spots that have remained closed like Eleven Madison Park.