While kitchens in some NYC restaurants haven't gone completely cold, relying on delivery and take-out options to stay afloat, all are eagerly awaiting the day they can reopen and welcome diners back.
Although those dining rooms — and the overall restaurant experience — may be very different from the one patrons once knew.
The National Restaurant Association sent out guidance to eateries, with certain measures all should prepare for if and when they are able to open their doors once again. Some expectations include:
- Monitoring the health of all employees to ensure a safe, illness-free environment
- Stricter cleaning protocols on everything ranging from silverware, flatware, tables, seating and more
- Avoiding use of self-service buffets and salad bars (potentially spelling doom for certain buffet-style restaurants)
- Updating floor plans to allow for social distancing
The last item may be the most important, and the hardest for many NYC restaurants to do without severely cutting into their business. Many restaurants try to fit as many tables as possible in their small confines, but that may no longer be an option.
"We're trying to think about what that will look like in a restaurant and how you would maintain proper social distancing in a dining room," said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State restaurant association. Fleischut and the association believe that delivery and take-out options will still remain key aspects of many restaurants, even after the limits are lifted.
"Customers are gonna want to see a clean, organized environment to enjoy again," said Executive Chef of Empanada Mama Stuart Dove. The chef at the popular late-night dining destination said they've had to bring down staffing levels since sales are down 70 percent.
The remaining workers again still plug away in the kitchen, complete with masks and gloves — one part of this new normal that likely isn't going away any time soon. Dove said his staff is looking forward to having customers back at the restaurants, and while they don't know when that is going to happen, he said there will be changes made.
One idea for change put forward by the city could help keep restaurants as full as possible, without overcrowding. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will look into allowing restaurants to open up seating options on streets that get closed.