No news is most certainly not good news in the case of New York restaurants that expected Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expand indoor dining capacity by the end of the month.
The calendar turns this weekend, and Cuomo’s promise to consider raising capacity from 25% to 50% was predicated on COVID-19 infection rates remaining steady. They have not. New York City rates have doubled since Sept. 25, when indoor dining re-opened, with nine city zip codes spiking.
“I think we would have heard by now if indoor dining was going to expand by Nov. 1,” restaurant consultant Donny Evans told the New York Post. “People need time to prepare.
“Restaurants are scared. Without expanded indoor dining, there will be a tsunami of closings.”
The New York Hospitality Alliance is asking for the increase to 50% capacity, but without the areas that are spiking. Restauranteurs are concerned that business with the outdoor dining option will decrease sharply as cold temperatures and snow approach.
Last week, the New York City Council provided a bit of relief by allowing restaurants to charge up to 10% as a “COVID-19 recovery charge” for customers who dine on the premises.
“What angers me the most is that Cuomo doesn’t give us direction for the future,” Tribeca’s Kitchen Director of Operations Rick Camac told the Post. “All of us who thought Nov. 1 was happening spent money getting ready for it. There is a cost to reopen. Will some restaurants now be going out of business? Absolutely.”
Owners are trying to figure out how to have restaurants survive. Leaders are trying to figure out how to have people survive. Neither is going well.