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We asked W42ST readers if they are ready to dine indoors at restaurants and bars. More than 500 of you responded, thank you! Unfortunately for local owners, there was vote of no confidence on indoor dining (adding to their frustration with the slow response of Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to create a plan).
Only 29% of our readers gave a “Hell YEAH!” to our question, with many more saying “Hell NO!” (45%) and lots still unsure (25%)
We also polled our readers on their dining habits pre-COVID and since outdoor dining started. The results are revealing.
The pandemic has changed our sociable demographic, from all of us regularly eating out at some stage each month, to nearly 20% not eating out at all. The few times a week crowd reduced from being the majority at 61% to just 17%. These trends (along with the exodus from the city) fit in with our initial survey of local businesses reporting trade down by 70% year-on-year.
Here’s some of the reader feedback from different sides of the argument.
“Great, for dining and for businesses. Also a test of restaurateurs’ diligence and a leap of faith to really see if we are ready and able to be indoors together.” Ryan B.
“I want to support our struggling restaurants. Eating indoors, away from blaring horns from tunnel traffic, is more enticing than the only option being outside.” Amanda M.
“Almost like we are back living normal New York BC (Before COVID) life.” Yana V.
“A step toward normalcy. Our restaurants aren’t going to be able to survive with the limits they currently have.” Leanne B
“To qualify my answer – it really isn’t a ‘Hell Yeah!’ It’s more of a ‘Yes, I’m willing to entertain it.’ And have…. when on a trip to Cape Cod at the beginning of August, they have indoor dining. Of the one to two meals a day, we ate out at a restaurant, we sat inside once and it was OK (although it felt odd). We always opted for outside when we could. The biggest concern is the internal air circulation and how that functions – it’s hard to figure that out by observation or feeling. That to me is the biggest unknown and worry.” Scott D.
“About time, they’ve been doing it on Long Island for over a month.” Tamora R-K.
“I would be helping restaurant and bar owners in my neighborhood to survive until this pandemic is over!” Margo.
“Frightening as hell right now.” Peter S.
“Very helpful to the restaurant industry, I know, but I am just not ready to take that risk.” Agata M.
“Dangerous, probably foolish, unnecessary.” Tyler.
“Irresponsible, reckless, premature, evidence of magical thinking.” Ian M.
“Fantastic once there’s a vaccine.” Allen R.
“Something I long to do again, but I’m not sure how it would feel to be in a confined space, maskless, with strangers
“Fine if there is abundant space between customers. But most restaurants in this neighborhood are too tight for appropriate physical distance… think The Marshal or Briciola (two of my favorites). Spaces like Marseille, Nizza, and 5 Napkin could probably pull it off to make me feel comfortable.” Paul D.
“More anxiety inducing. But it would mean I could be, hopefully, re hired by my restaurant.” Joe.
“Good for restaurants. but I am not sure if I feel comfortable yet.” Rebeka.
“Wonderful for our local bars and restaurants as the weather gets colder, but will the people come? Will another wave of COVID-19 prohibit it?” Sarah.
“Even with the outdoor dining, it seems people feel like just because they are at a table they can’t catch the virus. More safety will ensure people don’t catch or spread the virus, which in turn means restaurants can stay open and increase capacity little by little.” Bruce M.
Our favorite suggestion was from Daphne McWilliams on Twitter.
We love the idea, but cannot see it catching on in Hell’s Kitchen!
On Sunday, we will be talking to our local business owners about their plans for survival. Please subscribe to our daily newsletter or follow us on social media.