Reopen News: Bronx Little Italy closes Arthur Avenue to allow for more outdoor dining

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Little Italy in the Bronx is taking the idea of opening streets to allow for greater social distancing to the next level by inviting the neighborhood to enjoy dinner al fresco.

Lunchtime at Zero Otto Nove on Arthur Ave. is quiet.

"We're just surviving right now," owner Roberto Paciullo said.

Even though tables are six feet apart, the owner Roberto Paciullo thinks diners feel cramped.

"I think if there is more space we can put more plants or flowers. We can make it more appealing," Paciullo said.

And he'll be able to,starting Thursday. The Belmont Business Improvement District will create a piazza, closing a two-block stretch of Arthur Ave. to cars and opening it up for pedestrians and diners.

"We have the street opening at night on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sundays 1-9:30, it's a day out and it's outdoors," BID Chairman Peter Madonia said.

Related: Outdoor dining shifts into high gear in NYC

Madonia, who owns Madonia Bakery, hopes the piazza plan accommodates the needs of both the retail businesses like his and the restaurants in the Bronx's Little Italy.

"My grandfather started the bakery in 1918 at the beginning of the second wave of the Spanish flu," Madonia said. "This neighborhood has big shoulders. We're going to support that resilience and we will get through this."

The piazza will allow Zero Otto Nove twice the seating in a more spacious setting and if they do more business, they can hire back staff, but there are still a lot of unknowns.

"Every day you wake up in the morning, it's a nightmare. I can't assume what it's going to be exactly with what so many restaurateurs are dealing with," Paciullo said.

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