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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Joins Elected Officials Across the Country In Call to Revive Federal Aid for Restaurants

Plus, Astoria favorite Sami’s Kebab House expands to Long Island City — and more intel

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New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a news conference at a Manhattan subway station.
Mayor Eric Adams.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

New York City mayor Eric Adams has joined a group of elected officials across the country calling on the federal government to replenish the national Restaurant Revitalization Fund, an emergency fund providing financial support to restaurants and bars hard-hit by the pandemic. The Real Deal reports that the mayor signed a letter to Congress — alongside 27 other mayors, including from Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston — pushing federal lawmakers to refill the fund as restaurants contend with temporary shutdowns and business disruptions in light of more surges of COVID-19 in their communities.

Over 100,000 restaurants and bars received an average of $272,000 each from the fund before it ran out last July, according to the Real Deal. However, over 177,000 applicants were denied financial support altogether after the fund dried up. The majority of the funds that were allocated in New York went to restaurants and bars in high-income neighborhoods, according to a study by the state comptroller tracking the disbursement of the money. However, despite the renewed calls to re-up the fund, it’s looking unlikely that the Biden administration will set aside meaningful financial aid for the industry.

Bodega owners rally to demand support as 15-minute grocery delivery services take over the city

A group called the Save Mom-and-Pop Business Coalition, representing bodega owners across the city, rallied in front of the Stop 1 Deli on the Lower East Side over the weekend to call attention to the threat of displacement that small grocers are facing from the flood of 15-minute grocery delivery services popping up in Manhattan. Local politicians joined the rally to speak out against the proliferation of the venture-backed services, including GoPuff and Gorillas, that have been snapping up real estate and building out grocery warehouses behind dark storefronts. Bowery Boogie reports that the coalition is calling on local government to provide support to bodega owners and better regulate the startups’ use of dark storefronts.

Venues add COVID-19 tests to the menu

Offering COVID-19 tests to customers is not exactly easy due to scare supply and high demand, but for the lucky few who have been able to swing it, the service has been yet another way to attract diners and stay afloat during the pandemic. Henrietta Hudson, one of NYC’s few lesbian bars, partnered with a local testing clinic to provide free rapid and PCR tests to customers and the response has been overwhelming, owner Lisa Cannistraci tells Gothamist. The clinic covers the costs of the tests, and the bar has doled out around 400 tests in “less than a week” since it started offering the service. Similarly, urban winery chain City Winery began handing out rapid tests to customers for free during the latest COVID-19 surge in the city, although it has since run out and is having trouble getting more tests, according to Gothamist.

Sami’s Kabab House expands to Long Island City

Local Astoria and New York Times-beloved Afghani restaurant, Sami’s Kabab House, now has a smaller, fast-casual, takeout counter spot at 47-38 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City with about 10 tables for dining in the narrow space. Expect the same flame-grilled lamb chops ($26), butchered from a whole lamb on-premises, chicken thigh kebabs ($17), and rice as long as noodles. Owner and chef Sami Zaman will also be throwing in new LIC-exclusive specials like kadu bouranee, a sweet pumpkin side dish, and Afghani-style fries seasoned with coriander seed and grapeseed powder, and packed with a green chutney for dipping (a flavored ketchup is coming soon). For the former street cart vendor and taxi driver, this marks the third offshoot of his growing family business with a full-service restaurant also in Glen Cove, Long Island. — Caroline Shin, Eater New York contributor