NYC restaurants prepare for return of indoor dining

Restaurant tables across the Big Apple are ready to serve some warm meals to warm customers when indoor dining returns for a second time on Friday. 

“Tomorrow is the big day!” Christian Nacipucha, the manager of Sunset Park’s Maria Bistro Mexicano, told The Post Thursday afternoon. 

“I’m happy indoor dining is coming back. It’s cold out there and I’m tired of looking at the chairs stacked on the tables or folded up. It’s depressing to see.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced indoor dining will be able to resume at 25 percent capacity in the five boroughs two days earlier than originally planned on Valentine’s Day so eateries could have time to prepare. 

The same rigmarole that came with the Big Apple’s first foray into indoor dining amid the COVID-19 pandemic will also apply on Friday — temperatures will be screened and names will be noted for contact tracing.

But as long as customers aren’t forced to huddle around lukewarm entrees in the freezing cold, the eateries are all in. 

“We know the drill already,” Jonathan Kaufman, the owner of Kenn’s Broome Street Bar in Soho, said as his team prepared to fix up tables for the indoor rush. 

“With 25 percent, we can have 18 people eat and drink inside. We’re barely surviving, no one wants to eat outside in the winter unless they’re from Alaska. We do temperature checks, tracing book of 400 pages,” he continued. 


A waiter at Carbone in Greenwich Village serving appetizers.

William Farrington

NYC restaurants reopening

NYC restaurants reopening

Felipe Pasan is hoping that indoor dining will allow him bring back some of his staff at Sunset Park Diner.

Paul Martinka

NYC restaurants reopening

NYC restaurants reopening

Indoor dining can re-open at 25 percent capacity in New York City.

Paul Martinka

NYC restaurants reopening

NYC restaurants reopening

As COVID-19 cases rose in December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down indoor dining in New York City.

Paul Martinka

NYC restaurants reopening

NYC restaurants reopening

Inside Sunset Park Diner, which is set to re-open indoor dining on Feb. 12, 2021.

Paul Martinka

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Felipe Pasan, the manager of the Sunset Park Diner in Brooklyn, said he hopes he’ll be able to bring back some of his staff — as the eatery doesn’t have room for outdoor dining and has been takeout-only since indoor eating closed last December

“It’s not a lot [with 25 percent capacity] but at least it’s a step forward and we will take it,” said Pasan as he stood beside a colorful sign announcing the reopening. 

“It couldn’t have come sooner but it’s up to the big bosses… I’m hoping that it will help because we really need all the help we can get,” Pasan went on, referencing Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Milton Calle, the manager of Cipriani Downtown in SoHo, is holding out hope that all the New Yorkers who “left for Miami” will come back to nosh on their slow roasted chicken alla cacciatora and prime rib eye steak tagliata. 

“Life will come back to New York. We also can rehire staff who haven’t worked since the indoor ban. We’re very happy about that,” Calle told The Post. 

“Let’s just hope Cuomo doesn’t cancel indoor dining before tomorrow again.”

Meanwhile, at the famed celebrity haunt Carbone, general manager Cristina Corzac said it will now be able to welcome 19 guests inside. 

“Not that many,” Corzac said, but they’re “happy about the extra revenue.” 

“Our guests are extremely excited to eat inside.”

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