As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, New York City is moving ahead with reopening.
Monday marks the return of NYC Restaurant Week where diners can eat at some of the city's best restaurants at discounted rates and take advantage of special deals.
Summertime is often slow for restaurants, and without an influx of tourists, this summer won't be easy. But with meals priced at $21 or $39 at more than 500 restaurants, the mayor hopes an extended Restaurant Week program will help.
"These restaurant owners, the employees, they fought back, kept the businesses going and now Restaurant Week is going to give them more customers and a whole lot more energy," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
And there's even a new offering this year: a $125 gourmet option.
"For those who are looking to splurge a little and celebrate the summer after a long time of being inside, we're offering a $125 signature dining series which is a brand-new element to the program, and that includes at least three courses, but all those menus include either truffle ingredients or tomahawk steaks, wine tastings, bottles of wine, chef's tables experience," said Alyssa Schmid with NYC & Co.
Restaurants haven't had it easy through the pandemic. And while the Restaurants Act has offered $28 billion in grants, the grant money has already dried.
"The Restaurant Revitalization Fund needs to be replenished so that all 177,000 businesses that applied for and still desperately need relief can get it," said restaurant advocate Andrew Zimmern.
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Junior's Cheesecake in Brooklyn is among the many restaurants looking for a boost with the city's first real Restaurant Week in two years.
At Junior's, the lunch and dinner specials come with a free slice of cheesecake. And unlike last year, you can actually eat in.
"Soup, salad, sandwiches, entrees - and you get our famous cheesecake, complimentary," said longtime manager Hasting Stainrod, just back from knee replacement surgery.
The NYC Hospitality Alliance reports as recently as December, 92% of them couldn't pay the rent.
"The world has never seen anything like this," said Stainrod. "It affected business, but we're hanging on, and we continued to grow and learn."
"Slowly coming back, it's been great," said Andy D'Amico, chef partner at Marseille. "Restaurant Week is usually a very successful time of year for us."
And here's an added bonus: after lunch, you can start planning your wedding.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City's Marriage Bureau in Lower Manhattan is reopening for in-person nuptials starting Friday.
You can book your appointment starting today.
All this is thanks to the city's relatively high vaccination rates and COVID numbers that continue to remain low.
Over the weekend in the city, just 44 people were in area Intensive Care Units being treated for coronavirus.
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