Saturday, August 1, 2020

A petition to allow patrons to sit at a bar without having to order a meal

In response to Gov. Cuomo's recent mandate that people sitting outside a bar also need to be ordering a "substantive" amount of food from the establishment, Abby Ehmann, owner of Lucky on Avenue B, launched a petition to amend the executive order.

On June 22, outdoor dining returned to NYC. At the time, Cuomo did not specify that only restaurants could provide the service. Bars, who previously were selling drinks to go, could now set up tables provided they also continue to serve snacks.

However, with some bars — notably White Horse Tavern — not adhering to any kind of social distancing, Cuomo said on July 23 that to stay open, establishments needed to offer more than chips and pretzels.

"To be a bar, you had to have food available — soups, sandwiches, etc.," he said in a press conference. "More than just hors d'oeuvres, chicken wings, you had to have some substantive food."

Now bars, already under a financial strain and working with skeleton crews, need to create a menu and whip up a kitchen or be forced to close — even if they never served food before the COVID-19 PAUSE.

"The ever-changing rules and lack of clarity are creating enormous challenges and concerns for small business owners who are in a crisis," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told The Daily Mail last week.

To the petition:

The resulting mandate not only puts an onerous burden on bar owners, it has no bearing on safety or health. All super-spreader events have been about ventilation — or the lack thereof — and proximity, not what the people were ingesting.

Rather than legislating what customers must order, I believe it would be safer and smarter to require customers be seated while consuming whatever they want. If no standing is allowed, the possibility of overcrowding is eliminated.

New York is fortunate that our capable leadership has managed to flatten the curve and make us among the top states in the nation in virus containment. Restaurant and bar owners celebrate that success and want to help ensure that our numbers remain low. We are aggressively invested in keeping our customers healthy.

If we, as business owners, are able to maintain social distancing, with tables six feet apart, and require that all our customers be seated, we can easily help contain the spread of the virus. SEATING NOT EATING is a far more elegant solution. It also does not require additional staffing or other expenditures that place an additional burden on an industry that is already suffering severe financial hardship. What people consume on our premises isn’t the problem. HOW they are consuming does, and I believe they should be seated.

You can find the petition at this link.


noble neolani said...

outdoor bars with tables are bars, people gathering close to each without boundaries drinking alcohol without a meal means people getting drunk and relaxing or abandoning social distancing. I feel terrible that bars are having such a hard time like so many small businesses here but spreading covid-19 has to be prevented.

Grieve said...

I see people getting drunk sitting outside at restaurants while having a meal.

Lola Sáenz said...

According to the Health Dept if you are selling food, you need a kitchen and clean space to prepare food, an oven. A 3 part sink,refrigerators at the correct temperatures to store food,etc. A place to store cups, lids, plates etc.
And Bars sell liquor, I doubt that they have refrigerators or ovens, which would cost more money. Unless you microwave TV dinners. Restaurants can sell both they are equipped to do that. I dont disagree with Bars selling drinks with Chips and dips.
Everyone in the restaurants are eating and drinking and some are drinking and getting buzzed. So I think if you want a meal, go to a restaurant, if you want to have a beer or drinks go to a bar and have your chips and dips, even a hot dog or vegan dog does not require much. No one is controlling the amount people drink in neither of these places. Places are dying here, something's need to be worked out for the Bars.
Food for Cuomo to Think about!

Molly said...

If rent relief for commercial Mom and Pops of all types would get through the state legislature it would take some pressure off of the Bars and Restaurants who are breaking rules to stay afloat. We can't depend on Washington but we can petition our State Senators and City Council members. The other option is to only have Amazon to shop at and Chain Restaurants to eat at.

m2ndSt said...

I'm signing. these rules arbitrarily discriminate against places without expensive kitchens. because a place was a bar not a restaurant they should be set up to fail? It should be about their ability to do what they do safely whatever that is.

LPIFLY said...

So are chicken wings considered substantial? Heard he was wrong. This former Buffalonian needs to know that out state food is substantial and accepted by our governor

sophocles said...

Bars exist to socialize under the influence of alcohol. That's ok in normal times. It's not a priority now. No standing? You can't even get cars not to stand. Please stop trying so hard to save the bars.

An EVer said...

How does adding food to the drinks menu change the spread of the virus?
Just ensure bars have tables set correctly and patrons follow the rules.
Beyond those departments monitoring, there is 311 and you can upload photos of infractions to keep the few bad apples from misbehaving for too long.

Giovanni said...

At this point the restaurants are basically just outdoor bars. I did a survey on Friday night of the outdoor seating areas and the majority of customers had drinks on their tables without any food. And by no food I mean there were no plates or signs of a finished meal in most cases. So it’s unfair to the bars to keep them shut down while the restaurants are basically getting all of that business.

On the other hand, if the bars reopen then restaurants will suffer and almost no one will have enough revenue to stay in business. A few months from now it will be too cold to sit outside anyway, especially at night. Cuomo and DeBlasio have made the logical decision to sacrifice the bars since A) bars encourage unsafe behavior, and B) restaurants are where the majority of the jobs are. There just isn’t enough business left to allow everyone to survive.

The harsh realty is that at least half of these alcohol-centric businesses will probably not exist six months from now. I see college students and young professionals loading up moving vans to go back to Ohio every day. The customer base is fleeing the city. The rich have already escaped to their country and beach homes. I was in Central Park last evening and the windows in the apartment buildings along Fifth Avenue and Central Park West were as dark on a summer night as I’ve ever seen them. Over 10% of StuyTown apartments have already emptied out.

The pandemic is winning. The economy is going downhill faster than most people realize. Gold and Bitcoin are soaring to new highs, and the market is due for another big correction. Many people have changed their behavior permanently and will not go back into any crowded space for a long time. Once winter comes and the curbside cafes empty out, the restaurants are back to doing takeout and delivery. Everyone is on their own now since the government is only bailing out big businesses and connected cronies, and too few of our beloved local businesses have the political clout or the money to survive this.

BushwickGrillClub said...

The interesting part of this debate is there is no such thing as a bar license from the SLA. All establishments selling on-premise alcohol are required to also submit a food menu with their application. That menu may be hot dogs and microwave burritos, but it's still a menu. It's true few bars are ever taken to task for not serving food on inspection, but it's SUPPOSED to be available. That said, I agree with the "seated not standing" concept here though we all know most bars are encouraging standing drinkers to get that 2nd or 3rd round.

Babs said...

Bars having food available, as has been the case, is fine -- not the issue here. Cuomo seems to be saying the patrons MUST order the food whether they want food or not. As an unemployed patron, I may want to save money & make my food at home, then go out and have a couple drinks. As a vegan, I likely do not want most of the crap on the bar menu. Perhaps I want enjoy a beer around 4pm when it's not lunch or dinner time. This is just not well thought out.

Anonymous said...

I'm more worried about bad actors AKA "douchebag bars" like "the hairy lemon" or all you can drink brunch places, etc. that have no issue with blocking sidewalks, yelling, noise... not only are they not helping with Covid concerns, they are exasperating quality of life issues. Obviously some more noise and annoyance is to be expected with everything outside, but places like that are on another level.

Anonymous said...

Most of the restaurants were really bars pretending to serve food to get their liquor licenses. And once they got their licenses the main entree in their menu is that $20 artisanal cocktail served in a fishbowl. In reaction to the curbing the pandemic virus, the new mandate to serve alcohol with a purchase of food is just revealing the real restaurants from the "restaurants".

Anonymous said...

Sorry Abby, not signing this one. The language of the current order(s) might not be perfect and it definitely sucks for some, but I get the gist of it and it's 100% necessary.

Anonymous said...

Who has money to go to bars and restaurants right now? This is an honest question. If I have $20 to spare, I am not going out for drinks. I am putting it toward groceries.

Anonymous said...


Jill W said...

@6:02 indeed unemployment is high. But there are people working same as always, either from home or in essential jobs. It's vital that these people and anyone with a little extra money support the businesses they want to see survive this. Then maybe all of us can enjoy some of these longtime institutions in the years to come.

Scuba Diva said...

@Babs: and as a vegan, you probably want to narrow down the field further by downloading Barnivore to make sure your drinks are vegan as well!

Bars are bending over backwards for our business, even to the point of creating "mocktails" for those of us who don't imbibe. (Which is a nice thought, but I'm still a little leery of paying eight or ten dollars for a soda.)