Thank you to all essential and frontline workers for getting us to this point in time. Though New York and the Northeast remain in a good place, the number of COVID cases is incrementally increasing. We need to stay in the cut until we have a vaccine. Masks, social distancing, and respect for all your fellow humans will continue to take us a long way.

By now, most restaurants in New York City who have survived during this pandemic have learned indoor dining will resume on Sept. 30, 2020. For some it is “a dollar short and a day late,” for others, a lifeline to manage their businesses as the weather begins to change making outdoor dining difficult for their patrons.

Getting to 25% of capacity for indoor dining has not been done lightly and was no small feat. Thank you goes, in part, to the NYC Hospitality Alliance for which Harlem’s Melba Wilson of Melba’s serves as president of the board of directors. She along with her restaurant owner board members, some from Harlem, have been champions for the preservation and survival of the industry.

On Sept. 9, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the victory and belief NYC restaurants could open indoor dining and keep patrons safe. The following is an excerpt of Executive Order 202.61 for both owner and patron, issued on Sept. 11.

“This guidance will apply to indoor food service and dining in restaurants, establishments and other food vendors and concessions in New York City. Once effective, food services establishments in New York City may open indoor spaces with seating for customers in accordance with this guidance; however, indoor bar service must remain closed at this time (i.e., no seating or service at the bar, all alcoholic beverages must be served to the table), and indoor food and beverage service shall not be permitted between midnight (12:00 a.m.) local time and 5:00 a.m. All service must cease at midnight (12:00 a.m.) and cannot resume until 5:00 a.m.

As announced, the City of New York will establish and deploy a team of 400 enforcement personnel to ensure businesses that offer indoor food services and dining in New York City comply with the state-issued requirements contained herein. Any individual who observes a violation of this guidance should report such violation by calling 1-833-208-4160, texting ‘VIOLATION’ to 855-904-5036, or completing the online complaint form.”

For more detailed information and resources, visit

I know this decision is not 100% optimal for business owners; however, this virus has killed close to 200K people in just the last six months. I offer this information for all of us, owners and patrons, to remain vigilant for the collective health of our communities and for our city.

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

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!