Confusion is rampant as Big Apple businesses seek to open under Phase Two as soon as next week grapple with unclear guidance from Mayor Bill de Blasio – and whether or not they can survive in a coronavirus-ravaged world.
“New York State came out with some guidelines, but is the city following those or does the city have its own guidelines?” wondered James CustomerBrien, the co-owner of Brooklyn restaurant Popina Wednesday.
“It’s not like it’s just sitting back hitting a refresh [city] websites every day looking for guidance, departing here working to save this business, ”the Cobble Hill restaurateur told The Post.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that New York City is on track to enter Phase Two of the state’s four-phase reopening plan this coming Monday, but de Blasio has yet to commit to that date and continues to say only that a city outdoor dining plan will come. “Soon.”
Rita Ragone, a celebrity beauty expert who operates a Midtown hair salon that could finally reopen for business in Phase Two, griped, “When the governor and mayor don’t see eye to eye on a reopening date for service industries like salons … it really becomes a frustrating issue for our. businesses and livelihoods.
“So many are hanging in the balance of deciding to open or leave New York City for good. But for those of us who are willing and more than prepared to open, we book, hire back employees, and our business plans are in limbo, ”Ragone said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Restaurants and bars can open for outdoor dining under Phase Two, as well as office spaces, real estate services, in-store retail, barbershops and hair salons, car dealerships and houses of worship – all at limited capacity.
“It’s frustrating because we really prepare,” said Victor Ortega, co-owner of Black Iron Burger, which has two outposts – one in Midtown and the other in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, where the mayor owns two houses.
“There is incredible uncertainty and even desperation among many restaurant owners who can no longer manage the financial burden of being shut down by the government,” Andrew Rigie, head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told The Post.
“Getting the outdoor dining requirements rolled out as soon as possible so they can plan is critically important, but these small business owners also need to know when they will be allowed to open so they can plan and start bringing some money into their businesses.” Rigie added.
De Blasio has previously said Big Apple restaurants will be able to temporarily create seating on sidewalks, in parking spaces and in open streets during Phase Two – and has said the city will identify new open streets on commercial strips with a high number of eateries and. bars – but has not yet unveiled the locations of those streets.
Abi Yavuz, 41, the owner and manager of Verde, an eatery on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, said Smith Street, known as Brooklyn’s Restaurant Row, is a natural contender to turn into an open street.
“From Union Street to Atlantic Avenue, 80 percent restaurants,” said Yavuz, who explained that the four tables he would only be allowed to have spaced six-feet-apart in his eatery’s backyard should be enough.
“Nobody will be able to make money,” he said.
With more space to put out tables, Yavuz said he can serve up to 40 people instead of just a maximum of 16 people in the restaurant’s backyard.
“At least if we had outdoor seating in front of the restaurant I could put 10 tables for four, which means 40 people, so I lose 60, 70 percent of the business,” he said.
The de Blasio administration said that any of the Big Apple’s 26,000 restaurants can utilize curbside seating as long as they comply with city guidelines and register online through a self-certification process.
Stephen Elkins, the owner of Forest Hills Station House, a bar in Forest Hills, Queens, said the “uncertainty” surrounding the reopening process “has been incredible.”
“It’s been really just trying to figure out how to go about doing business. I don’t see why the mayor put a stamp on [the Phase Two date], ”Said Elkins, adding that business at the watering hole has been down 75 percent.
“Only excited for Phase Two because it gets us closer to Phase Three when we can have a 50 percent capacity indoor crowd.”
Those in the real estate industry were just as eager.
“It’s been prepared for this from having already opened in our markets in California, Texas and Florida. It’s ready for it, that’s queued up for everything we need to do, ”said Douglas Elliman president Scott Durkin.
“It would be wonderful if the state and local governments in New York would decide that we’d be reopening on Monday,” said Durkin, noting that the city’s real estate world is ready to boom.
“Between our agents being ready and chomping at the bit to get back to work, people are pushed by their buyers and sellers to get back to work because everyone has a need,” he said. “I have never seen such a pent up demand like this.”
Retail shops don’t wait to welcome customers back inside, either.
Arthur Lee, a manager at The Gold Standard, a jewelry and pawn shop in Forest Hills, Queens, said, “A big part of our business is helping people who need cash, and I’m excited to deal with them in a more personal way. and respectful way, where there are less barriers. “
He has been hoping for the city to move into Phase Two on Monday so he can actually let customers into the store to try on jewelry as well.
Lee claimed that the mayor “committed to a lot of things, and when he did it was usually the wrong choice.”
“I don’t think in the end he agrees to Monday. I think he pushed it to the first week of July. But tip see. Watching, ”said Lee.
Linda Pagan, owner of The Hat Shop in Soho, echoed those remarks about de Blasio, saying, “He seemed to take decisive action. It can be frustrating. “
“I just want to do it the right way, in an organized way, so that we can put it behind us and then get back to business,” said Pagan.
Additional reporting by Lia Eustachewich