Planning Commission approves permanent outdoor dining sheds

In a win for the restaurant industry, the City Planning Commission on Monday voted to allow Open Restaurants, and the sheds that come with the program, to become permanent. The zoning text amendment it approved wipes out geographic restrictions on sidewalk cafes in the city. The vote was 10-0 with one recusal. The program, created during the pandemic to aid restaurants (but also benefiting their landlords), allows eateries to set up tables on sidewalks and

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Check, please! Locals demand city undo outdoor dining

Kathy Arntzen and her husband have lived in a condo on Cornelia Street for 32 years. But during the pandemic, the character of her sleepy Greenwich Village block has fundamentally changed. Seven restaurant sheds have popped up, along with a plethora of outdoor cafe seating, all on Arntzen’s 450-foot-long street. With the sheds came music blasting from speakers, black trash bags on the curb and rats scurrying between planters. “It’s losing its identity,” Arntzen said.

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Daniel Boulud replacing iconic Augustine with new French bistro

A new bistro from renowned restaurateur Daniel Boulud will rise out of the ashes of Keith McNally’s Augustine. Boulud is set to open a French restaurant this spring at the Beekman Hotel in the Financial District, according to the New York Post. The outlet noted a liquor license application was posted in the window of the restaurant with the name Dinex, Boulud’s company. A name and a chef for the restaurant have not been picked

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Downtown pols call for limits on permanent outdoor dining

The Open Restaurants program, a lifeline for small business owners during the pandemic, has achieved a rare feat in New York City politics; uniting just about every demographic imaginable, including registered Democrats and Republicans, in popular support, according to polling. As it turns out, not everyone is on board. While the City Planning Commission heard testimony Wednesday about making the Open Restaurants program permanent, a coalition of Downtown Manhattan lawmakers and community leaders voiced their

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Sidewalk space a hot commodity as city mulls permanent outdoor dining

At Beginnings, a literary-themed bar and restaurant in Atlantic Beach, owner Ben Freiser has doubled his seating during the pandemic. Adding to the existing patio and indoor dining room, he’s set up a commercial party tent in the parking lot and a second patio near the street. Eighteen months into the pandemic, diners now demand outdoor seating — and restaurants must provide. “I don’t think you can put a price on it,” Freiser said. “Never

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Sweetgreen buys robotic restaurant startup Spyce

Salad chain Sweetgreen is moving into the tech space, acquiring automated restaurant firm Spyce for an undisclosed price. Based in Boston, Spyce uses a robotic kitchen to replace cooks, using conveyor belts to serve up dishes like kale salads and banh mi bowls. Sweetgreen told Insider that it envisions using Spyce’s technology to power its restaurants. Spyce was not without its issues after its founding by MIT graduates in 2018. After raising $21 million in

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Restaurants plead for more relief as Delta variant keeps diners away

The restaurant industry is coming back for seconds. The National Restaurant Association on Tuesday urged lawmakers to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, warning that increased costs and changes to consumer behavior amid rising caseloads has put restaurant owners under “crushing long-term debt loads.” “The small gains that our industry has made toward financial security are in danger of being wiped out, dashing the hopes of communities, entrepreneurs, and consumers nationwide,” the association wrote in a

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To vax or not to vax: group sues de Blasio over Key to NYC

A group of individuals including right-wing political candidates have filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio, claiming that his requirement that customers show their vaccine cards in order to partake in indoor activities is unjust and discriminatory. The plaintiffs vary from restaurant owners who claim to have lost business, to customers who don’t want anyone aside from their doctors to know about their vaccination status. Under the executive order — known as the Key

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Family feud for $11M Lundy’s restaurant building boils over

Lundy’s used to serve heaps of fresh seafood to nearly a million diners a year in its iconic Sheepshead Bay dining hall. But now, the owners of the 49,000-square-foot building are only dishing out courtroom beef. A lawsuit filed Wednesday aims to compel a dead shareholder’s estate to sell his stake in the company that has owned the Lundy’s building since 1988. When Brooklyn entrepreneur Dimitrios Kaloidis died in September 2019, he left behind 25

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Restaurant aid runs dry, leaving most applicants with nothing

The federal pandemic relief fund for struggling restaurants fell short, helping less than a third of eateries that sought assistance. The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which was established as part of the federal $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, closed on Wednesday because it ran out of money, the New York Times reported. More than 370,000 restaurant owners filed the applications, seeking $75 billion in assistance. But only 105,000 were approved for grants, averaging about

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