By Lisa Rozner

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After a year and a half of canceled plans, reservations are open again for one of New York City’s biggest events.

Restaurant Week kicks off Monday, returning indoors for the first time since the pandemic began, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Sunday.

The smoker is ready to go at Queens Bully in Forest Hills. This is the first year the barbecue spot is participating.

“Usually, a lot of Queens restaurants don’t get the opportunity to participate in Restaurant Week, so we’re fortunate enough that this year they’ve opened it up,” Queens Bully owner Rohan Aggarwal said.

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Starting Monday, the restaurant will offer special deals on lunch and dinner. Sandwiches reference the Greek food of Astoria, the Latin flavor of Corona, and the Indian influence from Jackson Heights.

“As you know, Queens is the melting pot of New York City, so we showcase that in our flavors over here,” Aggarwal said.

Queens Bully is one of more than 500 restaurants in 75 different neighborhoods offering a takeout and/or a dine-in experience. The Restaurant Week special includes an entrée and at least one side, plus dessert at certain spots.

Lunch or dinner options are $21 or $39 and some high-end restaurants are offering an experience for $125.

“The program will take place for five weeks, which is the longest period of in-person dining in Restaurant Week’s 29-year history,” said Alyssa Schmid, spokesperson for NYC & Company.

And take a step back in time and dine in for Restaurant Week at Sac’s on 35th Avenue in Astoria, located on the perimeter of the Kaufman Astoria Studios.

“There’s a lot of history here. There’s a lot of history from Kaufman, Rudolph Valentino, Wall, the silent stars ate here and this was part of their whole experience,” Sac’s co-owner Domenico Sacramone said.

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Inside there’s relics, like a fan from the 1920s, something you can take in while you sit and, of course enjoy, the food.

Recipes like the ravioli, with the sauce made fresh on site, go back generations to the Sacramone’s family in Italy.

“I love the participation because we all need the help. Little by little, people are having more courage to come out,” Sacramone said.

As the restaurant community still works to recover from revenue losses, the city’s tourism arm, NYC & Company, waived registration fees for restaurants. The venture is what businesses hope will be part of the rebuilding recipe to yield new and returning customers.

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