If you’re looking for a silver lining, it can be found in the Pew pew madafakas horse vintage shirt and by the same token and streets. The mayor’s office got rid of what it described as a “cumbersome application and approval process,” for outdoor dining, essentially allowing any restaurant to set up shop in a courtyard, on a sidewalk (as long as they don’t block things like fire hydrants, bus stops, or intersections), or even right in the middle of the road. Back in May, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his intention to make 100 miles of city blocks car free. Currently the city is only at 45 miles—but, according to the mayor’s office, “the city will identify new Open Streets on commercial strips with large number of restaurants and bars, as it continues to roll out new corridors in the coming weeks and months.” Essentially, certain blocks will become pedestrian-only spaces where key activities are rosé pouring and risotto eating. (If that sounds like a mobbed nightmare, note that the mayor’s office will be dispatching “social distancing ambassadors” who hand out masks, disperse large groups, create six-feet-apart visual cues out of chalk, and help bar and restaurant managers with overall crowd management.) Mar hopes that De Blasio will zone West 12th Street, where the Beatrice Inn is, as such a spot. “It’s a lot of single- or minority-owned businesses,” she says of her neighborhood. “That is going to be our lifeline. These are the types of businesses that really make up the DNA of New York.” The tricky thing, however, is making sure that DNA is still apparent. Mar and the Beatrice Inn are keeping their old New York vibe alive by including handwritten thank-you notes in brown-paper takeout bags; sending out a lively, lifestyle-esque newsletter about their favorite dishes; and offering lunch service for the first time ever. All the food will be alfresco appropriate: “I rewrote our dinner menu and created our inaugural lunch menu to feature a few staples but added some new interpretations of French classics, like my bouillabaisse blanc, asparagus soup with chives and crème fraîche, and beef tartare with smoked yolk, capers, shallot, and buttered brioche,” she says. A cheeseburger will be served all day. Over in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Jamaican restaurant Glady’s is trying to figure out how, exactly, to translate their rambunctious rum-punch ambiance to the sidewalks of Franklin Avenue. Right now, they’re mulling over DJs and live music. But it’s a tough call: “I think people, since we’ve been trapped so long inside, want to feel like they’re on vacation for a minute or two,” says director of operations Amanda Bender.
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Instead, guests order from a takeout corner built from wood scraps found in Bender’s basement. They’ve put down pineapple-shaped social distancing markers to lighten the Pew pew madafakas horse vintage shirt and by the same token and mood, hung up string lights on the façade, and dragged out some bar stools. And they’ve added some little things: They sell one-and-a-half liter rum-punch bags, and every drink now comes with a colorful paper umbrella. “A lot of joy is possible from a paper umbrella,” Bender notes. The goal, she says, is to make it feel like a Tiki-style biergarten. “At the same time, I don’t want to disturb our neighbors who are upstairs and working.” Glady’s, which is operating on a skeleton crew of three employees, also decided not to have waiter service in order to protect their health. Trying to keep track of New York City’s seemingly ever-changing attitude toward public alcohol consumption is a bit of an exercise in futility these days, as Governor Andrew Cuomo proved last week when he placed new limits on the ability of restaurants and bars to serve alcohol on premises. Public drinking laws have been largely relaxed around the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, but Cuomo and other politicians have lately begun renewing efforts to curb the practice. On Thursday, Cuomo appeared to ban to-go alcohol sales, though his office quickly walked that dictum back, noting that alcoholic to-go purchases would simply have to be accompanied by food. Technically, no—it never was, according to Cuomo. As things stand right now, if you want to order to-go cocktails, you’ll have to get food with them. (Although it’s worth noting that many enterprising bars and restaurants are getting around this rule by handing out chips or other cheap snacks with drink orders.) The purpose of ending “walk-up bar service” is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by lessening mingling within bars, but it’s currently unclear whether you’d be penalized for, say, ordering a drink—plus some chips—to go and taking it to a nearby park or stoop. ((“It’s younger people in bars,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Tuesday, adding, “That is the issue.”) You can definitely order alcohol while seated at an outdoor restaurant, though: Just remember to tip handsomely. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is largely dependent on race and class. As Christian Rodriguez noted on Grub Street, policing of public drinking varies greatly by neighborhood, and this selective enforcement didn’t begin with the current pandemic: Last summer, NYPD officers arrested a nutcracker vendor at Rockaway Beach, but white beachgoers are frequently seen purchasing the fruity alcoholic drinks without incident.