STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - The owners of Max's Es-ca, an Italian restaurant on Staten Island, have been glued to the television as protests sweep the country over the death of George Floyd.
They say they've watched in horror and disbelief, not only because of the occasional violence and destruction, but also because of the lack of social distancing by protesters.
Alison Marchese, an owner of the restaurant, says she doesn’t understand why officials won’t let her reopen in a fuller capacity.
"It’s just not making sense to us at all. The mayor and the governor are condoning people protesting and marching in groups, but we can’t open up a restaurant and use the outside?” Marchese said.
Marchese and her partner Max Calicchio say that the state and city allowing the demonstrations bolsters their claim that businesses on Staten Island should be permitted to reopen.
Governor Cuomo has already rejected the argument that Staten Island should be treated differently than the rest of the city, despite the fact it meets the seven metrics required by the state to lift closure orders.
It makes no sense, Cuomo says, to treat Staten Island differently than the other boroughs.
In light of Cuomo’s position, they've sent another proposal to the governor.
"The idea that people can go into Costco and do this exact same thing, why can’t they do that with us?” asked Calicchio.
Over a dozen other restaurants have signed the letter, which calls for adding hand sanitizer, spacing tables, checking the temperature of diners and allowing outdoor dining in parking lots and on sidewalks.
They say their reopening would be safer than what's happening in the streets.
"The fact that people can march in hundreds and thousands in masses and not have anybody say anything about that, it’s just upsetting to us,” said Calicchio. “We’re looking to be safe, wear masks, wear gloves, it just seems that it doesn’t seem fair."
Some business owners on Staten Island have discussed the possibility of opening before Governor Cuomo says it’s OK to do so.
Still, it’s not a plan Calicchio and Marchese say they are likely to follow. They’ve got too much to lose by doing anything illegal, the restaurant owners told NY1.
The Staten Islanders have also appealed to local officials, but the final decision rests with the state.