Westchester restaurant owners prepare for possible limits on indoor dining
Westchester restaurant owners are preparing for possible limits on indoor dining to return after Gov. Andrew Cuomo reinstated the indoor dining ban on New York City, starting Monday.
Benjamin Prelvukaj owns Benjamin Steakhouse in White Plains and three other restaurants in Manhattan. He says it's extremely difficult having multiple restaurants under different COVID-19 restrictions.
At Prelvukaj's White Plains location, there are nearly 200 seats for outdoor dining. He says that's what he'll be relying on as he prepares to make cuts at his Manhattan locations.
"It's like a nightmare, you're really just waking up and having a nightmare, you don't know which direction to go," Prelvukaj says. "Every day there's new rules, new restrictions."
At a time where he's already lost about 90% percent of his business since the start of the pandemic, he's already planning to furlough staff in Manhattan as soon as Monday. In White Plains, he's hoping impending restrictions won't go any further.
"We have to get ready, same thing as we did in the city," Prelvukaj says. "Hopefully they leave us with 50%."
In a statement Friday, the New York Restaurant Association said in part, "Today's news will do nothing more than incentivize more unregulated indoor household gatherings…"
The governor indicated that indoor private gatherings is driving about 74% of the spread, while bars and restaurants account for about 1.4% of positive cases.
Prelvukaj says, "I understand bars to be closed, I think it's fair so people don't gather, stay long and hang out, but I think people sitting down at a table, people they know who've been tested on a daily basis, I think it's safe."
A recent survey by the state and National Restaurant Associations estimates one in six restaurants nationwide have already closed. This includes more than 8,300 statewide and 4,500 in New York City alone.
54% of New York's restaurants say they most likely will not be to hold the line over the course of the next six months without federal relief.
This weekend, the governor says the state will be monitoring indoor dining data in orange zones and the rest of the state before deciding what steps may be necessary to take next week.