PARK SLOPE, Brooklyn — It’s a happy weekend for city restaurants: as of Friday, they’re now able to seat more diners indoors than they’ve been able to in nearly a year.
Beginning Friday, indoor dining is allowed at 35% capacity at New York City eateries.
At Negril, a lively Jamaican restaurant on Fifth Avenue in Park Sloe, whose mantra is “one love,” the love was clearing flowing Friday night — along with their jerk chicken, oxtail and curried goat.
The 5,000 foot restaurant, with a pre-pandemic capacity of 180 people, was allowed to increase their capacity for indoor dining to 35%, or 64 customers.
With safety protocols in place like temperature checks, hand sanitizers and potted plants separating the tables, the co-owners are thrilled.
“We’re very excited that we get to accommodate more guests,” Malissa Browne, a Negril co-owner, told PIX11 News. “It brings a lot of life into the restaurant. To be honest, the more the merrier.”
“I am an ER nurse. I take all the precautions,” Belinda Ong, a Negril customer, told PIX11 News. “They take your temperature, they make sure you have a mask on. They have social distance, as you can see. I have absolutely no hesitation to dine out.”
This 10% increase in seating is the highest capacity restaurants around the five boroughs have had since the first state-mandated shutdown went into place in March last year.
But the rest of the state has been at 50% capacity for several months.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the city’s density is a reason for moving slower.
But the head of NYC Hospitality Alliance, Andrew Rigie, said it’s time to step it up.
“It’s better than 25%, however we still need to safely increase occupancy to at least 50% like restaurants have throughout the rest of New York state, and it needs to be coupled with rent support, which is what restaurants desperately need.”
The team at Negril agreed.
“I think gradually we can get to 50%,” Andre Honore l, a co-owner of Negril, told PIX11 News. “The restaurant industry needs 50%.”
At Korean restaurant, Haenyeo, across Fifth Avenue from Negril, the owners have installed a new air filtration system on top of all the other safety precautions to insure that the fundido duk boki is served safely to all their customers.
“It’s been a hell of a year with everything they’ve thrown at us,” Terrence Segura, co-owner of Haenyeo, told PIX11 News. “All the changes. Thank God we’ve had a really understanding landlord and she’s been very supportive through the whole process.”
“We rode out the pandemic in Park Slope and we watched restaurants and knew that if we were allowed back in, it was okay to do so,” Michelle McGovern, a Haenyeo customer, told PIX11 News.