Talking SCHOP! Phase II: Harlem reopens (just a li’l)

KYSHA HARRIS Food Editor, @SCHOPgirl | 6/25/2020, midnight
We are finally in Phase II of reopening. This is great news for many businesses who have struggled to remain ...
Vinataria Kysha Harris photo

Thank you, essential workers, businesses and healthcare professionals, for all you have done and continue to do, getting us to this point and beyond. Protestors, thanks to you for being out in these streets safely and peacefully demanding accountability, justice and peace. Your voice is powerful.

We are finally in Phase II of reopening. This is great news for many businesses who have struggled to remain open through these times. So, what does Phase II mean for our restaurants? According to nyc.gov, these are the restaurant mandates of Mayoral Executive Order 126:

• Outdoor seating on sidewalks may not exceed the business’s frontage width.

• NOTE: The City has established an expedited approval processes by allowing restaurants and bars to self-certify their eligibility for curb lane and sidewalk seating using a new, streamlined application process at NYC.Gov

• Seating cannot extend past the eight feet depth of the curb lane, and it cannot block:

• Bus stops

• No Standing/No Stopping Anytime zones

• Doorways

• FDNY access (e.g. within 15 feet of a fire hydrant)

• There must be an eight-foot clear path free of obstructions between the seating and the curb.

• Social distancing, hygiene and other health guidance must be followed.

• Restaurants must provide their own tables, chairs and traffic barriers.

• Restaurants must adhere to all local, state and federal requirements relating to accessibility for people with disabilities, including path of travel, minimum table heights, and clearance requirements.

I know I am super excited to dine out again. I miss my favorite haunts and some new places I have uncovered swiping through social media. I have ordered from a few, but I know I need the experience of getting it plated straight from the kitchen.

Now, some restaurants do not have outdoor dining and will remain grab-and-go. The operative word here is “GO!” As you might have seen, many restaurants serving alcoholic beverages have not been monitoring their served customers to leave. Instead, these customers congregate, unmasked and not socially distanced, to imbibe together.

In my opinion, these restaurants NOT complying with Grab-and-Go are not thinking about the safety of their customers or the community. Rightfully so, they are thinking about their bottom line as margins for alcohol are much greater than food (less labor, higher return, greater check averages). It seems like the only way to recuperate from the shutdown.

The City is not having it. While Executive Order 126 has temporarily halted City regulations such as the prohibition of the consumption of alcohol on streets, “Customers are not permitted to gather outside of establishments,” says nyc.gov. “Businesses that repeatedly fail to comply will have their Open Restaurant authorization revoked by DOT, and will be referred to the State Liquor Authority.”

Harlem restaurants, we welcome you back. We will show up and take care of you by abiding by all safety precautions. Please return the responsibility in kind.

Stay safe, wear a mask, eat well and thanks for reading!