NEW YORK - Roni Mazumdar can’t wait for Phase Two reopening so his restaurant can offer outdoor dining. His Indian spot Rahi in the West Village served takeout throughout the shutdown, but he says this next step is like the light at the end of the tunnel. He had 35 employees before the pandemic and now he’s able to bring 12 of them back to work.

What You Need To Know

  • Restaurant owners are getting creative as they prepare for Phase Two.
  • The owner of Rahi looks forward to bringing some of his staff back after having furloughed them since the start of the pandemic.

  • Restaurants make plans to attract customers with unique set ups on the sidewalk and change the way they do business to keep customers safe.
  • Owner of Rahi says opening at reduced capacity on the sidewalk presents new challenges.

"It feels like we’re catching our first breath, it feels like we’re coming alive again," said Mazumdar. "Telling someone to not come in that’s heartbreaking to me to tell people come back there’s a lot of excitement to it."

His restaurant is ready to look forward with safety protocols for customers to feel at ease, going out again.

"Masks, gloves, temperature checks for employees every single element we will implement," Mazumdar said.

Though he welcomes the outdoor aspect, there are still limitations.

"Reduce capacity means reduced Reduced staffing your whole menu has change some dishes you’re just not able to do. It feels empty and lonely," Mazumdar said.

Rahi is completely reimagining the way it does business in this time trying to attract customers with an outdoor mini bar grill and a touchless menu with a QR code.

Other restaurateurs in the city following that same mindset. Sam Stephens, the owner of OatMeals in Greenwich Village, is trying to transition to outdoor service as well.

"I bought a bench for the store out front on the sidewalk just so we can sort of invite people in for outdoor dining because obviously right now I can’t have anyone inside," Stephens said.

"We’ve all been missing that proper dining experience. To provide that again we have this dish called banana leaf chicken. you watch the steam come out it’s magical, you get this comfort," Kuzumbar said.

It's a sense of comfort to make the city feel like home again with a new boost of energy through this new normal.