The drinks are flowing at Lou Lou in Chelsea on Friday night.
While restaurants are now permitted to operate at 75% capacity, owner Mathias Van Leyden said the increase doesn’t change anything right now because of social distancing.
"When there’s no more distancing rules that will change something you know we have a speakeasy bar right now, then we can use the space downstairs the way it was intended to," he said.
The 75% capacity increase also applies to salons, barbershops, and personal care services.
Dmitriy Arabo is the owner of DIMA salon. He, too, said the capacity limit increase does not make a difference.
He said since his salon is small, and fewer customers are coming in, it just doesn’t make sense to have more than one stylist working per day.
"People still feeling uncomfortable to be around people still," he said. "So with a small place, it’s getting too close. So people get nervous. Somebody’s coughing, everyone’s running."
"I was afraid when I went online to book you. I was like, 'Oh, please let him still be in business, please let Dmitriy be in business,' because he’s been cutting my hair for 20-something years," said customer Chris Arruda.
Van Leyden opened his restaurant just before the pandemic started, and said the business has actually been doing well with his popular outdoor seating.
While the increase in capacity does not help him either, he said any step in the right direction is positive for the city as New York makes a comeback.
"New York lost that soul that it had for almost a year now, a little over a year," he said. "Coming back, it feels nice to have it again. We took it for granted. Now it’s like, 'Wow, we forgot how good it feels,'" he said.
Most capacity restrictions will be fully lifted on May 19, but it's still unclear how social distancing will impact that. The governor has said if businesses can prove people are vaccinated or have recently tested negative, the six-foot rule might not apply.