Restaurant owners say construction project hurting outdoor business

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A neighborhood park is usually something to rejoice about, but the story of a delayed park and the huge fence that is now blocking access and hurting business at a restaurant is making the owners of one Manhattan restaurant very unhappy.

Chef Roberto Deiaco from some of the city's premier Italian restaurants says he and his wife Giselle opened Avena in Greenwich Village because of the outdoor seating.

"It was the main reason why we took it over," Roberto says.

The couple says two years ago when they signed the lease, the Parks Department told them the project would be done in 6-12 months.

"Around the summer, the Parks Department came to us, came here, visited us and said they're about to start first week of October, which was still fine," says Giselle.

Fast forward to February when they opened their doors - still nothing. Then in March, three weeks after they opened - the nuisance came.

The massive construction project started. From across the street you can hardly even tell there is a restaurant behind it. The fencing stretches almost the entire length of the block, from Bleecker Street all the way down 6th Avenue to Houston.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Parks Department says,

"When this complicated plaza reconstruction project is completed, all will enjoy an upgraded area that is dramatically improved with a bigger, greener and safer open plaza area."

The project involves the replacement of existing utilities, and it is over an MTA subway zone. It will take about 12 months.

The Deiacos say meanwhile, there is never any work being done, and it has cut their outdoor seating in half, created congestion along the sidewalk and now it is killing them during the peak outdoor season as they are trying to build a new business.

"We'll go bankrupt if they continue this," said Giselle.

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