Dec 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

NYC restaurants fight to stay alive amid COVID-19 restrictions

Photo of workers dismantling wooden structure for outdoor seating next to a building

Workers rebuilt outdoor seating at J.G. Melon's restaurant on the Upper East Side on Sunday. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

The hastily-built outdoor seating that has kept so many restaurants limping along this fall is now starting to come down, but the fight for survival continues.

Driving the news: This week — amid Gov. Andrew Cuomo's second halt to indoor dining in New York City and a wicked blizzard that suspended outdoor service — workers at the 21 Club in Midtown rallied against the owners' decision to keep the place closed indefinitely.

  • A coalition of Brooklyn restaurant owners is petitioning the mayor and governor to jettison a 10 p.m. curfew and relax outdoor dining rules.
  • Restaurants nationally are starting to offer suburban pickup and delivery options, per WSJ.

Reality check: The outlook is very dire. "Nearly 60 percent of NY operators say they are considering going into hibernation until the pandemic is over, compared to 36 percent nationwide," according to Eater.

  • But not all of them. J.G. Melon's, above, emailed Axios to say: "Our outdoor dining is OPEN, with heating and well ventilated, 11am-10pm, with takeout until 11pm, 7/days a week."

Flashback: Melon's, which arguably has one of the best burgers in the city (plus amazing cottage fries), was the setting for scenes in "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Manhattan."

  • As for the legendary 21 Club — a magnet for flamboyant celebrities — the artist Salvador Dali was allowed to bring his pet ocelot there in violation of health rules, per the New York Post.
  • "Novelist Jay McInerney wed socialite Anne Hearst there in 2006, with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani officiating," the Post said. "Recalling the meal afterward, McInerney told the Post, 'Prince Edward stopped by the table to say hello. In retrospect, it was quite a lunch.'”
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