New York City restaurants have had enough. Even as restaurants across the state have reopened for limited indoor seating, the Big Apple remains limited to only patio dining. Now, as fall approaches and cool weather returns to the city, restaurateurs are demanding action from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
A lawsuit filed last week in NYC lists Il Bacco Restaurant in Queens as the primary plaintiff in the suit that is seeking $2 billion in damages for their business and similarly affected businesses in NYC. The lawsuit seeks repayment from Cuomo, de Blasio, the Office of the Attorney General of New York, and the city itself. More than 350 NYC restaurants have signed on to the class-action suit.
Further, the lawsuit cites violation of Fifth Amendment protections that "Rights of Persons.....nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
1. On July 6, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that New York City would enter Phase III of re-opening without "indoor dining." The Governor further stated that "the numbers show we are right where we want to be, but what's happening around the country is a cold reminder that we need to continue being cautious and smart and disciplined.
2. New York City is the ONLY state region that still does not have indoor dining allowed, while it is allowed in neighboring suburban counties like Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. Indoor dining is not available to Plaintiff because Plaintiff is located in Queens, N.Y. If a restaurant patron travels five hundred feet east or one city block east from Plaintiff's restaurant, patrons are in Nassau County and can enjoy indoor dining in an air conditioned room. According to Governor Cuomo, it is dangerous to eat at Plaintiff's restaurant in Little Neck, Queens, but it is safe to dine indoors a few hundred feet east of Plaintiff. The NYC restaurant and bar industry has suffered catastrophic losses or revenues and over 150,000 have not been supplanted by take-out and outdoor dining. Eighty-three (83%) percent of restaurants or bars in NYC were not able to make full rent in July and over thirty-seven (37%) percent were not able to pay rent at all.
Restaurateurs in New York had been preparing to reopen their indoor spaces after months of closures when Mayor de Blasio issued a bombshell revelation that he wouldn't allow indoor space in the foreseeable future.
"Is there a way where we can do something safely with indoor dining? So far we have not had that moment, honestly,” de Blasio said earlier this week. “It’s going to take a huge step forward to get to that point and that’s the truth."
The choice by de Blasio and Cuomo to keep dining rooms in NYC closed has confused and frustrated business owners and residents. The metrics for entering phase three and phase four in Cuomo's plan have been met across the city. Every other region in New York has had limited indoor dining available for weeks. New Jersey opened indoor dining to 25 percent capacity this week.
A similar class-action suit was filed by gym owners across the state in August leading to their partial reopening just two weeks later.
Gov. Cuomo has didn't give a specific timeline but suggested that indoor dining could return if the NYPD designated 4,000 officers to be part of an enforcement and compliance task force.