Reopen NYC: Storm threatens outdoor dining, many restaurants don't receive warning

Josh Einiger Image
Friday, August 28, 2020
Outdoor dining: Storm threatens struggling restaurants' only lifeline
New York City's restaurants, already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, kept outdoor dining open during Thursday's storm.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's restaurants, already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, remained open during Thursday's storm.

The storm hit with a vengeance sending outdoor diners running for cover as servers gamely pretended nothing was wrong. After all, every dollar counts these days.

Before the rain, restaurant manager Alex Marino was plodding through what passes for a normal Thursday these days in a neighborhood where many of his customers have fled town.

It's all he can do to make 10% of his pre COVID revenue amid a dizzying and changing array of rules to follow including one he and countless other restaurants missed.

"We didn't know and I'm pretty sure all these restaurants over here, they didn't know," Marino said.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Transportation, now a restaurant regulator, tweeted that in advance of the storm all outdoor restaurants bring in all furniture.

That would have meant no business, but the saving grace for most places was that they never got the message.

Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger spent most of Thursday night driving around new york city.

He found just one restaurant that closed explicitly because of the weather.

"We're trying to survive with a fraction of what we were doing before -- and taking a day off? Taking a break? It's just maybe $3,000 less at the end of the week, but that pays for the staff, for us, for everybody," Marino said.

It comes at a time of grave uncertainty for a vital industry with colder weather fast approaching, a spate of cars crashing into cafes, and elected officials unwilling to budge on the indoor dining ban, even with schools and gyms back in business.

"We're trying to get a sense from the restaurant community how much interest there is in going longer," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The mayor suggested outdoor dining may extend past October.

But restaurants are barely hanging on in the summertime.

Just wait 'till winter.

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