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Time to raise a glass and say goodbye to the Cuomo Snack, people! It’s been nine long months since it was decreed that all alcohol purchases at bars and restaurants be accompanied by the purchase of a “substantial” food item — now that is set to end.

The Pocket Bar’s “Cuomo’s Balls” — they were fined $1,500 for being too small. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

The law led to some interesting takes on that “substantial food” directive, with bars serving up everything from Tater Tots to Cup-a-Soups and “Cuomo’s Balls” in a bid to get around it.

Suzy Darling at The Pocket Bar says Cuomo has been a bit hard to swallow at times during the pandemic. “As a wine bar owner who was given a $1,500 fine for my Cuomo’s Balls not being big enough to be considered a ‘meal’, I’m delighted to see this regulation lifted. I will never forget pleading with a department of health official, ‘Cuomo’s Balls may be tiny but utterly delicious, they are a family recipe, for crying out loud’ — I still got the fine. So after a year of pivot after pivot after pivot and losing my father to COVID, I’m proud to be reopening Pocket Bar NYC this Friday. Turns out I’VE got the biggest balls, well at least big enough to be considered a meal!”

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the midnight curfew for NYC restaurants and bars will be dropped next month, and sitting at a bar can resume as soon as next week.

Beginning on May 3, bar seating will be allowed in NYC after being off limits for more than a year. Restrictions on catering businesses have also been loosened, with catered events at residences allowed again starting the same day. The 12am curfew will be lifted for outdoor dining starting on May 17, and indoor dining starting May 31, said a press release from the governor’s office. The plans will be put before both legislative chambers later this week.

“Lifting these restrictions for restaurants, bars and catering companies will allow these businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic to begin to recover as we return to a new normal in a post-pandemic world,” said Cuomo. “To be clear: we will only be able to maintain this progress if everyone gets the COVID vaccine. It is the weapon that will win the war and we need everyone to take it, otherwise we risk going backwards.”

Over at Chez Josephine on W42nd Street, Head chef Frank Diaz told us: “I am very happy to finally have these restrictions lifted. I have a family of 4 kids and my wife to support. So this is very good news.” Owner Manuel Uzhca chipped in: “This will be a boost in the local economy of New York City, especially here in Hell’s Kitchen.”

Staff at Chez Josephine getting ready for the welcome changes.

It’s also a boost for staff at local businesses. “It’s finally starting to feel like things are coming back! They are bringing life back into the city! And now we can go out drinking after work again!” shared RJ, a barista at Schmackary’s.

Daniele Kucera at Etcetera Etcetera cannot wait to get back to normal. “It’s about time to allow people to sit at the bar and drink/eat. We have a lot of single customers who love to sit at the bar and dine. It makes me happy that more and more people are getting vaccinated and are feeling more comfortable to go out dine or drink,” said Daniele. “And having the bar open is going to help us, since we are still struggling in Hell’s Kitchen.”

Happy days with staff at the bar at Etcetera Etcetera in August 2018.

“We are excited!! It will help us increases our sales. Most everyone coming into the restaurant is vaccinated at this point so it’s super safe!” said Jeff LaPadula at PS Kitchen on W48th Street.

Jeff LaPadula (left) and the team at PS Kitchen.

Meanwhile, your Hell’s Kitchen bar options will be increasing, with The Press Lounge and DJ Reynolds reopening this week.

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