NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On the eve of indoor dining reopening with limited capacity in New York City, restaurant owners were excited, but said it’s going to take more than that to keep them open for the long haul.
A glass of wine, with a chill, was quite literally the case for Sari Caslow and her sister during outdoor dining. Both said they ready to take the experience indoors.
“I’ve been vaccinated, so I feel a little more comfortable going into a restaurant. I’m excited for the restaurants,” Caslow told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.
That’s because city restaurants, like Tarallucci E Vino, can finally welcome guests inside on Friday.
On Thursday night, the restaurant was perfecting its specials and safety measures, while setting the table for Valentine’s Day weekend at 25% capacity. That’s just 18 seats.
“It’s really difficult because on a normal Valentine’s Day we would turn tables two and a half to three times and 25% capacity is really hampering us down and also the curfew at 10 p.m.,” Tarallucci E Vino owner Luca Di Pietro said.
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Advocates echoed the cries of city restaurant owners and elected officials at a rally begging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow restaurants to stay open until midnight, and like the rest of the state, expand restaurant capacity.
Until then, Swing 46 in Midtown will stay empty and closed.
“We need at least 50% capacity to be able to operate. We’re trying to hang in. We have bills to pay,” manager Michelle Collier said.
Many are hanging onto the hope of mass vaccination. President Joe Biden’s administration announcing Thursday night the U.S. will have enough vaccines to supply 300 million Americans by the end of July.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said the pace will pick up in the spring.
“If you look at the projection, I would imagine by the time we get to April that will be what I would call for better wording ‘open season,'” Fauci said.
And those fully vaccinated in New York, and following Centers for Disease Control guidelines, can skip quarantine if exposed.
Restaurants hope this comes with a side of staying open for good.
“I see light, glimmer of light, at the end of the tunnel. That’s gonna be what keeps us going,” Di Pietro said.