Along three blocks of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, which is famous for its Italian cuisine, 22 restaurants have created a piazza with white-tablecloth service, fresh flowers and twinkling lights that draws hundreds of people from across the region on a nice evening. A total of 48 restaurants in the area offer outdoor dining.
“It has been a lifesaver,” said Peter Madonia, the chairman of the Belmont Business Improvement District, who expects most of the restaurants to continue to offer outdoor dining in the winter and beyond.
“It was a game changer for us in terms of making sure the fabric of our community — the restaurants and retail stores — are vibrant again.”
Still, some restaurant owners and workers said Friday that outdoor dining may not be enough to save their businesses.
Kenny McPartlan, who owns Hudson Smokehouse in the South Bronx, said that there was a short window of time that outdoor dining would be comfortable before temperatures dropped and snow blanketed the streets. He said that indoor dining at limited capacity would not be enough to make ends meet. “I’ll never make money like this,” he said. “Never.”
A few doors down at Beatstro, Alfredo Angueira, a co-owner, said he’s weighing his options for how to keep customers warm in the winter, including using traditional space heaters, electric heaters or even individual “igloo” heaters for tables.
In northern Manhattan, Harlem Public was able to rehire the majority of its staff after layoffs, said Lauren Lynch, an owner of the restaurant, but she added that the city should have made outdoor dining permanent sooner. Restaurants, she said, now have to scramble to come up with a plan for winter — especially since heaters are in high demand.