Tyler Hollinger says cocktails to-go have been a huge hit at Festivàl Cafe in Manhattan.
But, the drinks must stop flowing outside of the cafe starting Friday, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended the state of emergency.
That means temporary pandemic-related policies for drinks to-go and delivery of alcoholic beverages end with it.
“Cocktails to go have been a lifesaver for us. It’s an extra revenue stream that we just otherwise wouldn’t have,” says Hollinger.
In fact, Hollinger says 15% of his revenue is from drinks to-go and delivery of alcoholic beverages.
The alcohol restrictions were temporarily loosened to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, and in some cases led to people drinking on sidewalks or in parks, which is still against the law.
Hollinger opened Festivàl in September 2020.
“We haven’t known a life that hasn’t been pandemic service and we’ve survived in spite of that. We’ve survived from the love from the neighborhood; from the people who are our community and to take something like this away from the people when it’s so popular. Just doesn’t make any sense to me,” says Hollinger.
Bars and restaurants had just one night to prepare for the adjustment. Hollinger says he was even planning to open a sidewalk rose and oyster bar this week, but now, those plans are scrapped.
He says the change is unfair to business owners and to customers.
“Those people who are still COVID scared, who don’t feel comfortable going into bars and restaurants to sit inside or to drink inside who wanted the luxury of being able to grab and go because they wanted to stay safe — you’re just making matters worse,” he says.
“The industry is hurting and this has been a lifeline, and we’re not all the way back yet, and this has been a lifeline,” said Devan van Eyck, who is the mixologist and beverage director at Festivàl Cafe.
While drinks to-go appears to be over, other pandemic-related measures are permanent. The mayor says the city’s outdoor dining program will stay.