The New York City Council is set to introduce legislation on Thursday that requires the city to use open space for outdoor dining during the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants and bars have now been closed for in-person service for over two months because of the state’s “pause” order that shuttered all nonessential businesses. And while takeout and delivery options remain available, the restaurant industry has taken a tremendous hit, with many longtime restaurants forced to close permanently.
Photo: Louise Ma / WNYC via Flickr Creative Commmons
When the state closed all restaurants and bars in March except for takeout service, the New York State Liquor Authority legalized to-go alcoholic beverages, including wine and liquor, for the first time. A state official wants to make the temporary law change permanent. State Sen. Brad Hoylman on Thursday introduced legislation that would let bars and restaurants continue to serve wine, beer, and cocktails for take-out and delivery for at least two years after the state of emergency ends.
Illustration by the Rockwell Group
The idea to turn New York City streets and sidewalks into space for al fresco dining when restaurants can eventually reopen has been supported by local officials, small businesses, and even architects. Designer David Rockwell and his firm the Rockwell Group have put together a template for ways to use outdoor space for restaurant use while maintaining safe and socially distant conditions.
The New York City Council on Wednesday passed legislation that temporarily caps the commission third-party delivery services are allowed to charge restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya restricts commission fees charged by apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats at 20 percent during any state of emergency and 90 days following. The legislation comes as the city’s restaurants struggle to survive during COVID-19, with the state’s “pause order” forcing businesses to rely on take-out and delivery orders.
While you can’t support your favorite Mexican restaurant in-person on Cinco de Mayo this year, many eateries remain open for take-out and delivery orders to keep the party going at home. And with the holiday landing on Taco Tuesday, restaurants are especially stepping up their game, offering everything from margarita pitchers and frozen cocktails to DIY taco kits and fiesta boxes.
We all want to support the small businesses in our New York neighborhoods during this difficult time. But sometimes it’s hard to keep track of which stores and restaurants are currently open. A number of local websites and organizations have created easy-to-use search engines and interactive maps that provide information on open businesses.
Coogan’s Restaurant in Washington Heights, via CityRealty
An iconic Irish pub is closing its doors after 35 years in Washington Heights because of the coronavirus pandemic. The owners of Coogan’s restaurant and bar, located on Broadway between 168th and 169th Streets, announced on Monday “a fond farewell” in a Facebook post. “Ironically, this past March 17 would be the last time Coogan’s closed its doors,” owners Dave Hunt, Tess O’Connor McDade, and Peter Walsh wrote. “We had hoped to open them again but sadly that is not possible.”
A local nonprofit is helping more than two dozen New York City restaurants stay open amid mass coronavirus-related closures. Last month, Rethink Food NYC launched a “Restaurant Response” program that partners with restaurants in need of financial support and provides free or subsidized food to New Yorkers in need. As part of the program, the nonprofit will award 30 New York City restaurants a grant of up to $40,000 to help make 24,000 meals in total per day.
It’s officially the dog days of summer. This week, New Yorkers can dine out with their four-legged friends at a number of restaurants during the city’s first-ever Dog Restaurant Week. Hosted by Petminded, an organization that helps owners travel with pets, the weeklong event includes special promotions at more than a dozen dog-friendly restaurants across the city.
Automat by Berenice Abbott, 1936
In the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s Automats were a New York City dining staple for a hard-working lunch crowd, a modernist icon for a boundless machine-age future. At their height there were over three dozen in the city, serving 800,000 people a day. And nearly everyone who actually experienced Automats in their heyday says the same thing: They never forgot the thrill of being a kid at the Automat.
Created by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia in 1902, coin-operated Automats were lovingly-designed Art Deco temples to modern efficiency. Sleek steel and glass vending machine grids displayed sandwiches and main dishes as well as desserts and sides, each in their own little boxes, square and even, clean and well-lit. You put a coin in the slot, opened the door and removed your food—which was reportedly quite good, as the founders took terrific pride in their craft.