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New Yorkers Spar Over Loss of Parking Spaces Used for Outdoor Dining

Plus, ice cream shop Malai heads to Governors Island — and more intel

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People fill outdoor dining structures lining a street on the Upper West Side amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 10, 2021 in New York City. 
But think of the cars circling the block
Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

New Yorkers debate loss of parking spaces for outdoor dining

On Monday, the New York Post published a report revealing that about 8,550 NYC parking spots have been monopolized by roadside outdoor dining sheds during the pandemic, according to data provided by the city. That’s about 0.3 percent of the city’s total three million parking spaces.

The report kicked off, once again, a favorite pandemic argument for New Yorkers: Are outdoor dining sheds a welcome addition to the city’s dining scene or not? The Post talked to restaurateurs on both sides of the argument in Astoria, with some saying that it has been a necessary lifeline during the pandemic while others argued that now their customers can’t find places to park. Residents, too, couldn’t agree on whether the sheds were a boon for the neighborhood or simply causing more traffic congestion.

On social media, Mayor Bill de Blasio and others echoed support for outdoor dining. NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan conducted two informal Twitter polls to show an overwhelming number of outdoor dining supporters. Mayor de Blasio — who was responsible for greenlighting the Open Restaurants program during the pandemic — doubled down on his roadside-sheds-forever stance. One of his press representatives, Mitch Schwartz, added his own retort to the story, tweeting that “saving the restaurant industry would be a bargain at any price, but can’t really lose much sleep over 8550 parking spots.”

In other news

— Bajan Yankee’s Shirwin Burrowes is bringing salt cod fritters and jerk pork rice bowls to Crown Heights bar Hunky Dory for a pop-up this Wednesday, from 4 to 9 p.m. Pre-orders are available here.

— High-end omakase spot Nakaji is reopening its cocktail bar today, according to a spokesperson. Customers will find sake, shochu, and rare Japanese whiskeys at the bar, as well as a cocktail omakase option with three three-ounce cocktail tastings for $30 per person.

— Broadway star Ariana DeBose of West Side Story will be performing at Tavern on the Green in Central Park tonight. The show is the first in a series of summer Broadway performances at the historic restaurant, leading up to Broadway’s full reopening in September.

— Other Half Brewing is launching a hard seltzer line starting Thursday, according to a spokesperson. The two launch flavors — All Citrus Everything and Ginger Mule — are brewed at the company’s new Domino Park location. The cans will be available at both of the brewery’s NYC shops later this week, plus limited shipping and delivery options.

— Popular ice cream purveyor Malai has set up shop on Governors Island for the season. Founder Pooja Bavishi will be selling a range of weekender ice cream bars exclusively on the island, including one with a chocolate chili cookie base, spiced peanut crunch ice cream, peanut chikki, and topped with chocolate fudge. Separately, Malai is also hosting an ongoing guest chef series this summer at the company’s Brooklyn shop. Partnering chefs include Heart of Dinner’s Moonlynn Tsai and Yin Chang, and Gramercy Tavern’s Miro Uskokovic.

— It’s true: