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NYC restaurant group voluntarily halts dining

Posted at 5:51 PM, Nov 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-21 22:38:09-05

UNION SQUARE, Manhattan — Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café and Blue Smoke in Battery Park all had outdoor dining and indoors at 25% until this weekend.

The Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns and operates more than 19 restaurants in the city, made the decision to close voluntarily to all customers, except for takeout, until the pandemic is brought under control.

“With the recent spike in COVID cases here in the city and what we’re seeing across the country, we made the choice to do the right thing for our guests and staff to preemptively close our restaurants,” Danny Meyer, the founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, told PIX11 News.

Instead Meyer, Brookfield properties and the nonprofit Rethink Food joined together to distribute 700 free turkeys to South Bronx residents impacted by food insecurity during the pandemic.

It’s part of a $1 million partnership to help reactivate restaurants in the Bronx and help local families.

“We put out trust in government,” Carmine Soprano, the manager of a popular Chelsea restaurant Cafeteria, told PIX11 News. “What the city decides, we will go with."

While Union Square Hospitality Group made the decision to voluntarily close, other nearby restaurants with outdoor dining appeared to be thriving on this unusually warm day.

At Cafeteria, customers and staff are waiting to see what the city decides in the first week of December on whether to shut down.

In the meantime they rent $7 blankets to encourage customers to eat outdoors and support the restaurant business.

“Any outdoor dining I am okay with as long as there is room between the tables,” customer Ethan Feldman said.

Julissa Perez, another indoor customer, agreed.

“As long as you follow proper CDC protocols, then we are fine.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will wait until after Thanksgiving to see what the COVID-19 numbers look like before deciding about restricting indoor dining.