ASTORIA, Queens — As temperatures drop and with the real feel into the teens, restaurant owners say customers don't want to dine outside Thursday.
Rocco Sacramone is the owner of Trattoria l'incontro on 31st Street in Astoria. He posted a video on the restaurant's Instagram page, dining outside in the middle of the storm with his employees.
"I said, you wanna sit outside to see how it really feels for a customer to sit outside? You cannot have dinner outside in circumstances like this," Sacramone said. "We don't even have a tent outside"
The video went viral. Sacramone created a Gofundme page for his workers, many of whom are unable to return to their jobs. Sacramone has downsized from 40 employees to just six.
"For us it's a total disaster," he said. "In this industry, the money you make in December is the money that will carryover until march"
With indoor dining shut down just before the holidays, restaurant workers are struggling to pay the bills, let alone buy Christmas presents for their families.
"If you don't have job. You can't pay for nothing. You don't have money," said Luis Aoaieco.
Lidoyne Reymundo has been working at the restaurant since it opened in 1999.
"Why only the restaurants? Especially because it's Christmas, the kids need something like a gift," Reymundo said.
The restaurant is relying on delivery and takeout only. Sacramone says indoor dining needs to come back at a limited capacity.
"We are being shut down without notice. Okay, how long? Give us a heads up we cannot work like this here"