NEW YORK - Owner of Il Bacco in Queens Tina Maria Oppedisano in Queens says her restaurant is in limbo, just hanging on to survive. Not knowing a timeline for reopening her indoor dining room keeps her up at night.
“The fall is coming, the winter is coming. I’m not sure what they expect these businesses to do,” Oppedisano said. “Everything is up in the air. It’s very scary to be in the unknown.”
The neighborhood spot on Northern Boulevard that’s been around for 28 years sits around 500 feet from the Nassau County border. Long Island has allowed indoor dining since late June, making the delay for the city even more devastating for Il Bacco.
Oppedisano says she’s losing customers who are choosing to go to Long Island. Officials in New Jersey announced Monday indoor dining will kick off later this week. Industry experts say if other regions can bring it back and keep COVID-19 numbers down so can the city.
“We’re in a situation where New York City restaurants are surrounded by outdoor dining and they are locked out of it and in a massive massive financial crisis,” Executive Director NYC Hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie said.
Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested Monday that indoor dining won’t be happening in the near future.
NY1 headed to Burito Bar on Staten Island. Bartender Harold Dickerson says it’s been especially tough for staff who depend on customers dining in to make ends meet.
“I absolutely believe indoor dining can come back if we follow the right protocols and safety procedures to keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dickerson said.
People out to dinner who we spoke to had mixed opinions on whether restaurants should be allowed to offer meals inside.
“I think it’s best to err on the side of caution and make sure everyone is being safe,”said Tyler Wilson as he ate dinner.
“I feel bad for them they’ve been working so hard and I think we owe it to them,” said a diner named Antoinette.
The Decision to allow indoor dining in the city lies in the hands of the state. Governor Cuomo notes that with schools reopening and flu season just around the corner the city needs to stay extra cautious before letting restaurants operate one step further.