Wednesday, April 28, 2021

You will be able to sit at a bar again on Monday; food-with-drinks rule may be suspended

Gov. Cuomo announced today that, starting on Monday, seating at bars will be allowed in New York City — for the first time in nearly 14 months.

In addition, the midnight food and beverage service curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining areas beginning May 17 and for indoor dining areas beginning May 31.

Per a Cuomo press release: "Lifting these restrictions for restaurants, bars and catering companies will allow these businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic to begin to recover as we return to a new normal in a post-pandemic world."

Per Eater:
The move follows months of pushback from restaurant and bar owners across the city, who have been calling on elected officials to lift the state's midnight curfew. Industry trade groups and local politicians have also spoken out against the curfew, calling it an unfair, "arbitrary" restriction that hampers the ability of restaurateurs to bring in revenue due to earlier cutoff times.
Meanwhile, New York lawmakers are prepping to suspend the food-with-drink rule at bars as soon as this week, per The New York Times. Cuomo enacted the directive for "substantive" meals at bars last July as a way to keep patrons seated at tables.

Some bars, already under a financial strain and working with skeleton crews, needed to create a menu (Hello bags of Funyuns!) and whip up a kitchen or be forced to close — even if they never served food before the COVID-19 PAUSE. 

Last summer, Abby Ehmann, the owner of Lucky at 168 Avenue B, launched a petition asking Cuomo to roll back his mandate. Several days later, the SLA suspended her license and issued a fine after agents saw that she was not serving food with drinks.

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