Southern Brooklyn Lawmakers Urge To Reopen Indoor Dining Now

Southern Brooklyn Lawmakers Urge To Reopen Indoor Dining Now
NY State Senator Andrew Gounardes at the press conference in Bay Ridge. His office.

BAY RIDGE – Standing in front of Chadwicks, State Senator Andrew Gounardes and City Councilman Justin Brannan who represent the area stood with local restaurant owners to call on City and State agencies to immediately issue guidance on indoor dining so that local businesses can plan for the future.

While outdoor dining has resumed in the city, it generates a fraction of the revenues local restaurants need to survive the pandemic, and is expected to end in October. In the meantime, there has been no clarity under what conditions indoor dining could resume, and the restaurants are struggling. According to the NYC Hospitality Alliance, 83% of restaurants and bars surveyed could not pay their full July rent.

“Restaurants are the lifeblood of our city, and the fact that we don’t have any information or metrics for the reopening of indoor dining is absurd,” Senator Andrew Gounardes fumed.

“As winter approaches, we can’t leave our restaurants out in the cold. We need to give them information on how they will be able to welcome back indoor customers, as restaurants have done on Long Island, Westchester and in New Jersey,” he added. Indoor dining resumed in NJ today ahead of the holiday weekend.  “We need a plan of action and clear communication to follow the science and also issue guidance for our local restaurants to help them succeed. If we just let them fail, we let our economy fail.”

“It’s September and there are still no details on how or when indoor dining will resume for New York City restaurants – even though New York City has met, sustained, and exceeded all the public health metrics that have allowed restaurants throughout the rest of New York State to reopen at a limited capacity,” Councilmember Brannan noted. “The fact that you can go just a few miles outside New York City and dine indoors makes no sense. Today, I can go have lunch indoors in Westchester but not across the street in the Bronx. Tonight, I can go have dinner inside a Long Island restaurant but not across the street in Queens. It’s indefensible.”

Jumana Bishara, owner of the famed Tanoreen in Bay Ridge, summed up the challenges owners face – and the high cost of uncertainty.

“As restaurant and bar owners and operators we know how to adhere to city and state guidelines around hygiene, food safety, sanitizing, occupancy, and much more,” Bishara said. “We are here calling on officials to come up with an immediate plan to reopen indoor dining in New York. Give us the information that we need to prepare and trust us to be responsible operators so that our businesses can survive these challenging times.”