COVID-19: NYC Quote of the Day 2020-06-18

Thursday, June 18, 2020, NYC Mayor de Blasio - Open Restaurants: Outdoor Dining is the Way Forward

Let's start with what restaurants mean to us in this city. This is the greatest restaurant city in the world. Just to own a restaurant in New York City is a labor of love to begin with. If you are a restaurant owner in New York City, you're doing it because you have a passion, and you want to do something wonderful for people, and you want to make their life better. And in that moment, when they're in your restaurant, it's such a beautiful, warm feeling that people have. It takes a lot of work to achieve that extraordinary attention to detail. It is not only a labor of love, it is a 24/7 commitment. And I've talked to a lot of restaurant owners. They've been going through so much in these months, just trying to figure out, could they keep their businesses alive long enough for things to move forward and their customers to come back. A lot of them have worried that this would be the death knell for the thing that they built with their own hands, and for all the people who worked for them. And remember, this is a huge industry in New York City. There are so many tens of thousands of people who depend on the restaurant industry for their livelihood. And we all know, so many people get their start in that industry and go on to do amazing things often, including opening their own restaurants.

We have to save this industry. It is quintessential to New York City. It's the heart and soul of who we are. Not just because it's a big part of our economy, because we honor the entrepreneurship of everyone involved, because it's so many jobs; it's part of our identity, too. So many of the restaurants reflect our culture, our humanity, our creativity. Restaurants in many ways define the greatness of this city. We have to help restaurants come back, and we have to do it now and then keep doing it all the way to the point where things get as far back to normal as possible. Save restaurants. And that means using outdoor space in the beginning and then moving forward from there.

Our plan is called Open Restaurants. We all want safety first. I know restaurant owners, restaurant workers, get it, that they need to be agents of safety. They need to make sure that their patrons are safe, their workers are safe. Outdoor dining is the way forward. We want this to be a simple, fast, easy process for restaurant workers, restaurant owners, restaurant managers. Don't make it complicated, don't make it bureaucratic, make it easy.

We have five different ways to help them come back. First, curb lane seating. This means that we're going to allow, wherever appropriate, restaurants to use what would have been the curb area of the parking area, right adjacent to the restaurant. They'll be able to use that to put in seating, and that's something we will do through Labor Day on a pilot basis. Sidewalk seating. That means we're going to allow restaurants to add sidewalk seating adjacent to the restaurant building itself. Backyard and patio seating. Those pieces will all begin as we begin phase two on Monday.

On our open streets, there are locations where we can do restaurant seating. That's something that we're going to work out in the coming days. And that will be for nights and weekends, beginning in July. And there are pedestrian plazas managed by business improvement districts, and managed by local civic associations. In some cases, those organizations will want to work with neighboring restaurants to turn those into seating areas. So, the restaurants can expand into those pedestrian plazas. Wherever there is a BID or a local civic association that runs a plaza and wants to make it work, they can reach out to the department of transportation and apply, and we'll move on that application quickly, and they can do it simply by emailing plazas@dot.nyc.gov.

The application will be simple. It will be online. It will take very few clicks to get done. You self-certify. Once you say, hey, I'm ready to do this, I meet these standards, click send, you're in. The application form will be up online first thing tomorrow morning, it will take you literally only minutes to apply. And then you only have to wait for that reply to come back, it should be instantaneous, saying we got it, you're in, you're self certified, good luck, go get them.

Restaurants will not need to do a separate application to the State liquor authority. I want to thank the State and the SLA for their cooperation on that, we want to make this simple. Small Business Services has a hotline that will be there for all restaurant owners and managers to get answers, 888-SBS-4NYC. We think this will help save at least 5,000 New York City restaurants, and I want to emphasize this, help save them, keep them in business, help stop them from shutting down and help give them a future. 5,000 or more restaurants, we believe we'll get the revenue they need through this open restaurants initiative to keep going to the future, 45,000 workers will have their jobs preserved through this initiative. These are huge numbers, and it says so much about the future of the City that we can help to make sure that people who want to keep these crucial businesses going, you have to have that helping hand. Workers need those jobs.
Edited for redundancy, grammar, and emphasis
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