As New York slowly begins to resurface after COVID-19 shutdowns, we’ve been keeping a close eye on our beloved restaurant scene. With Phase 2 of restaurants reopening in New York officially underway, socially-distant outdoor seating is now open at many places, and Phase 3’s restricted indoor dining is close on its heels. In this ever-changing business climate, many local restaurateurs we know and love are finding new ways to serve us – while following social distancing and other guidelines to keep New Yorkers safe.
We checked on a few local spots to see how they’re making it work. Following are a few of the inspiring ways they’re pivoting in these uncertain times to bring us hope, connection, and seriously good eats.
Embrace the outdoors
With a desire to comply with outdoor-only dining restrictions in Phase 2, high-end Southeast Asian favorites Laut and Laut Singapura have reimagined their spaces to allow guests to eat outdoors for the first time their history. Italian restaurant Avena Downtown rebranded their terrace Avena Terrazza Outdoor Café in celebration of the new outdoor-only experience. West Village’s modern Indian restaurant Rahi unveiled Rahi Air, which features outdoor grilling and a tantalizing ice cream cart.
Rethink the menu and offerings
While some eateries like Dragon Horn Tea in Greenwich are unveiling new menu items like chocolate milk bubble tea to entice and delight NYC diners, others streamlined their menu and availability to maximize enjoyment, safety, and profits amid COVID-19. The lunchtime sandwich artists at Court Street Grocers have reopened for limited service Wednesday-Sunday. The Italian-Southern mashup pros at Popina in Cobble Hill are offering beverages and picnic provisions Wednesday and Thursday and the full menu Friday-Sunday. In East Village, 886 is featuring select comforting Taiwanese faves, and Mary’s Fish Camp in West Village has an abbreviated, yet eclectic, menu to try.
Reconfigure seating for safety and ambiance
To comply with social distancing mandates as outlined in the reopening checklist, restaurants are required to place tables with seats “at least 6 feet from any other table, seat, patron or pedestrian thoroughfare or corridor.” As such, restauranteurs must often remove tables, chairs, and other furniture to make room. Many are using flexible and affordable business storage solutions to temporarily house these extra furniture items.
With fewer tables and chairs, ambiance and aesthetics become essential for creating a place where diners can escape the world over a plate of delicious food. A few of the local spots making al fresco dining unforgettable include North Miznon for its quaint outdoor scene, Gitano Garden of Love in SoHo for its jungle vibe, and Ten Hope Outdoor Garden in Williamsburg for its green-laced patio.
Adjust dining times and reservation processes
Restaurants like hip-hop style Nowon and trendy Wayla restrict reservation seating to 90 minutes to allow for turnover and proper sanitization between guests. Brooklyn’s Mexican hotspot, Claro, requires brunch and dinner reservations and designated two pre-set seating times for each option. With fewer restaurant diners each day to abide by social distancing guidelines, Wayla has extended its reservation bookings out 14 days so that more New Yorkers can experience their homestyle Thai fare.
Keep harmful germs at bay
In addition to social distancing and sanitization protocol, both Avena Downtown and Rahi are taking precautions to limit access to high-touch items that can spread germs. Avena offers environmentally disposable utensils and menus, while Rahi provides QR code menu ordering, disposable napkins, and limited glassware. Claro has done away with menus altogether, opting for a digital menu only. Nowon requires guests to wear a mask when using the indoor restroom and sanitize their hands before and after entering the restaurant. And Gitano has added an outdoor hand-washing station to make healthy hygiene even more accessible.
Restaurants like Claro have also opted to incorporate additional health and safety protocol, including a brief health screening process for all diners before they’re seated. They’ve also placed stashes of disposable face masks and hand sanitizer throughout the restaurant.
These are just a few heartening examples of our city’s restaurants dedicated to making things work as best they can during this challenging time. As with most everything in life – and business – it takes determination and a healthy dose of resilience to push through fear and adapt to the changing winds. While the journey ahead remains uncertain, there’s evidence of hope across our great city. We’re proud to stand with New Yorkers and local restaurants and businesses working to keep our economy, culture, and connections to each other alive in a way that’s comforting and safe.
If you need affordable and flexible business storage solutions to help you through this – or any other – time, we’re here for you. Contact us online or visit us in-person at our latest modern state-of-the-art self-storage facility in Brooklyn. Stay safe, New York!