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NYC Legislators Sign Off on Another Small Win for Permanent Outdoor Dining

Plus, Jack’s Wife Freda is now open in Williamsburg — and more intel

Tables and chairs are set outside restaurants on Lafayette St.
New Yorkers dining outdoors during the summer of 2020.
Gary He/Eater NY

The push to make outdoor dining permanent in New York City inched forward this week, following a contentious nine-hour hearing about the program’s future earlier this month. On Thursday, two City Council committees related to zoning and land use voted to recommend an amendment that would legalize sidewalk cafes in most parts of the city, as opposed to the narrow districting zones where they were allowed prior to the pandemic. It’s a necessary first step in crafting a citywide outdoor dining program, according to a spokesperson for City Council.

The vote is a small victory in one of the more contentious local legal battles of the last year. Earlier this month, a City Council hearing related to permanent outdoor dining lasted almost nine hours, with 250 people testifying for or against the program. Those concerned have cited issues ranging from rats and noise to pollution and parking, while supporters of the program say it’s a necessary lifeline for restaurants recovering from the pandemic.

The entire 51-member City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal on February 24.

Fire victims turn to GoFundMe to cover restaurant damages

A fire that started in a vacant building in Bed-Stuy earlier this month left two dead and neighboring businesses with tens of thousands of dollars in damages. The owners of two longstanding businesses that were shuttered by the fire — a corner bodega and a fried chicken restaurant — have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover equipment that was damaged by smoke and the water used to extinguish the fires. “This property going into disrepair would mean the end of our lives as we knew them,” the owners shared on GoFundMe.

Jack’s Wife Freda is now open in Brooklyn

Beloved Manhattan brunch spot Jack’s Wife Freda opened its first Brooklyn location earlier this month, at 258 Wythe Avenue, between Metropolitan Avenue and North Third Street, in Williamsburg. The menu is almost identical to the restaurant’s other locations in Manhattan, according to Greenpointers, meaning all-day breakfast, kids menus, and chicken schnitzel have come along for the ride. It’s the latest from the small chain of restaurants, which started in Soho in 2011 and has since opened five more locations, including two in Tokyo.

Brooklyn Mexican restaurants head to the Catskills

Two of Brooklyn’s hottest Mexican restaurants are headed upstate over the next week as part of a pop-up with mezcal brand Ilegal. From February 18 to 19, Bed-Stuy cafe For All Things Good will be popping up at the Washington Irving Inn in Hunter, New York with quesadillas, tlayuditas, and more. Aldama, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Williamsburg and one of the year’s best new restaurants, sets up at the same hotel a week later, from February 25 to 26, with tostadas, al pastor tacos, and mezcal cocktails.

The city’s best bialys are getting a new home uptown

Kossar’s, one of the best places in town for a bialy, is expanding after more than 80 years on the Lower East Side. According to neighborhood blog East Side Feed, the bagel shop has put up signage at 75th and York Avenue on the Upper East Side. Last summer, the bialy and bagel shop announced it had signed a 15-year lease 312 Eleventh Avenue, at West 30th Street, in Hudson Yards. It’s yet to open.