BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Umbrellas and heat lamps are no match for a wet and chilly October evening. 

“We’re holding on by a thread,” said Charmaine Gumbs, the owner of Sugarcane Restaurant.


What You Need To Know

  • Restaurant owners are not expecting crowds for outdoor dining this weekend, with rain and chilly temperatures in the forecast

  • At Sugarcane in Prospect Heights, indoor dining is capped at 20 customers

  • The owner is hopeful the city will be allowed to increase their indoor dining capacity to 50% before winter hits

  • A spokesperson for Cuomo said the state is being cautious, but did not say whether the city will be allowed to increase its indoor dining capacity next month


Sugarcane is a popular restaurant on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights. Gumbs says she’s grateful for the community support through takeout and outdoor dining during the pandemic. 

But with indoor dining restrictions allowing her to seat no more than 20 customers inside, she’s concerned what the colder months will mean for business. 

“That adds to the challenge as the weather gets increasingly colder. No one is going to want to sit outside, even though you’re heated and you’re a little enclosed. It’s still uncomfortable,” said Gumbs. 

Langie Cadesca braved the rain — in hopes of getting a table indoors.

“We just wanted to come out and enjoy ourselves and we figured this would be a spot that would be open regardless of the weather,” said Cadesca. 

The only plus about the inclement weather is the number of takeout orders are up. But regular customers still fear the restrictions are hurting businesses. 

“They need to do something different. Because what they’re doing now isn’t working,” said Mike Johnson, a Prospect Heights resident. 

When indoor dining returned in the city, Governor Cuomo had said restaurants could start operating at 50% capacity in November — if the city’s infection rate stays low. 

But with spiking cases elsewhere in Brooklyn and Queens —  leading to some business being forced to close again — it’s not clear what this means for the restaurant industry. 

“Fifty percent would be a help. It would make things much better. It’s sometimes the difference between staying open and closing all together,” said Gumbs. 

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said the state is being cautious, making decisions based on the data and science, using a metrics-driven approach.  He did not say if the city was on track to increase its indoor dining capacity next month.