By: Jared Evan
“We’re saying outdoor dining is a success, and I’ve heard from businesses and New Yorkers who say it should be permanent,” Mayor DeBlasio recently said. “So, let’s start talking about what a long-term program for that would look like and ways to use space for our neighborhood businesses.”
City officials are looking into permanently streamlining outdoor dining rules and looking at loosening up many regulations and taxes.
Despite these plans, there have been many unpleasant features attached to outdoor dining, mainly homeless people loitering in the seated area for customers, drug users indulging feet away from restaurant customers, and city rats terrorizing people.
The NY Post recently interviewed Fahiyan Ahmed, who operates the family owned LIC Grill in Long Island City.
Ahmed told the Post: “On the first day, I set up two tables outside for a test run. We got two customers that sat down, but then they came in said, ‘We’ve got to take the food to go,’ said Ahmed, 29.
“There was crack smoke blowing in their face, marijuana smoke, K2 smoke. There were people coming up to them asking for money. There were drug dealers yelling at their runners. There were gang signs being thrown left and right.”
Even worse, Ahmed said, “Two homeless guys sat down at one of our tables”
“I told them the seating was just for customers, but they didn’t want to move,” he said.
“So finally, my manager and I had to force them off and brought the tables back inside. We never took them out again.”
Regardless of such horror stories, it looks like outdoor dining is here to stay in NYC.
Crain’s reported: A plan to help the city’s small businesses—especially restaurants—by making more liberal outdoor dining policies permanent, was unveiled Monday.
“We’re trying to maintain a sense of urgency there that we need action taken as soon as possible,” said Jessica Walker, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “The plan aims to have meaningful measures that can be taken to really help small businesses right now.”
The chamber, along with Councilman Keith Powers and the NYC Hospitality Alliance, published a report with recommendations on how to help the city’s small-business community.
Since outdoor dining has begun customers eating outdoors have experienced NY’s rodent problem firsthand. Rats who survive off left over food scraps in garbage bags, cans and on the subway, have basically been starving due to the drastic loss of foot traffic in NYC streets, subways, and closed restaurants during the lock down. When restaurants stating serving people outdoors, the rodents returned in mass looking for food.
NBC reported: Giacomo Romano, the owner of Ciccio in SoHo, told NBC New York that a rat had run across one of his customer’s foot during his meal.
Romano and other restaurateurs are asking the city to reduce the city’s rodent population, but the odds look slim — amid a budget crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Sanitation Department’s rat mitigation budget has been by $1.5 million to $12.3 million, meaning 25% less trash pick-up in areas with significant rat issues, according NY 1
From crack smoke to hungry NYC rats, outdoor dining is part of the new normal in a financially devastated city living in the shadow of a pandemic.