Originally Published : May 12, 2020


You are the wind beneath our wings Speaker Pelosi. Thank you for getting the HEROES Act out there to get the ball rolling with more help for small businesses.  With your action, you will at least force the Republican naysayers to address your ambitious and needed bill. 

Wasting no time, Queen Bee McConnell’s first reaction was, “um, no”.  It seems that the R’s in the Senate  are under the impression that the PPP is going just swell.  Sure, R’s, just  take a “wait and see” approach.  Wait until you choke us out and then see what happens when small businesses are no longer a thing in the good ‘ol US of A. Dustbowls and soup lines and it will be all your fault.

I attempted to read the bill but it’s 1800 pages of legislative gobbledygook and I do not have that in me.  I was able to pull out some things though I  see that the covered period is extended to Dec 31, 2020 and that the period to use the money is extended from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.  I’ll take both of those.  Not sure yet about additional funding but those numbers should be coming out soon.  All in all – seems like Sen Schumer was on the money with what he told us yesterday. Oh, and as an added bonus, the D’s included the Safe Banking Act that will improve access to banking in the cannabis industry. Righteous!

I‘m hearing that City Council bill 1932 a.k.a “the no personal liability bill” is going to pass through the Council tomorrow and that the Mayor is going to sign it and that it might happen very soon.  Also, the 20% cap on third party delivery fees is going to happen. 

I think 1932-A (because, remember, they amended it) is going to be quite helpful.  Again, as currently written, a guarantor will be able to walk away from a lease and any rent or taxes or other charges incurred from March 7 to September 30 would not be personally guaranteed if caused by Covid.  What has not been caused by Covid? Anyway, think of how the conversation might change with the landlord.  I know my song is going to go a little something like this:

Oh Landy, we want to negotiate lease terms. It’s simple. My client will pay a percentage rent up until he is at  full capacity.  That’s all.  If you don’t like it, here are your keys or better yet, I’ll wait until September 29th and then give you my keys.  My client will take a vacation, wait it out and open down the street in one of the many, many spaces that will be available at a much lower rent.  So, let’s work together and make the deal and isn’t a Charlie Bird in the hand worth two in the bush?

Where Do We Begin by Rebeccah Rumph, restaurant and bar designer

As we, hopefully, start to see glimpses of a loosening of requirements and potentially a slow return to a “new normal”,  I can’t help but wonder what this is going to look like for so many of our restaurant and bar friends.
A couple of months ago, I listened to a podcast by a “restaurant seating expert” who had developed a mathematical equation to figure out the optimal distance between tables in any given restaurant typology. https://www.npr.org/2020/01/

For obvious reasons, this equation doesn’t work any more. But in NYC, simply adding a few more feet in between tables will mean the reduction of critical numbers of diners and, by consequence, the fallen knife edge between overhead and profit for those who are even able to consider reopening. 
Our job as designers is to guide our clients towards a solution, working within the confines laid out by health experts and our government. As we begin to glean what these new regulations might be, we need to start by reviewing floor plans to analyse the traffic flow and isolate areas where bottlenecks and social distancing guidelines will be broken. This includes figuring out a way to delineate the ordering and pick up areas from the dining-in tables. Clear signposting also needs to be implemented with tape on the floor to clearly mark pathways and window and in-store signage.
Then we need to invariably include a new table configuration that conforms to the social distancing guidelines. A 6’ social distancing radius around every table will mean that a table of two will need 98 square feet. This equates to just 10 tables in the average 20’x100’ restaurant space in NYC.
Flexibility is the name of the game here and just as much as we’re planning for reopening with much less capacity, we should plan for different configurations that allow for the ability to add tables back in as the virus starts to wane and regulations are relaxed.
As we grapple with the adjustments that will need to be made in all eating and drinking establishments, the onus is on us, designers who are experts in space planning and used to maximizing every bit of space, to come up with possible solutions that ensure customers are kept safe. We’re looking forward to doing what we can to help our F+B friends and family get back on their feet.
–  Rebeccah Rumph is a principal of 71 Collective, the Brooklyn-based restaurant and bar interior design firm.  Their recently completed projects include The Turk’s Inn in Brooklyn, Trax at the Fillmore in Minneapolis and Sonny’s Pizza and No Kisses Cocktail Bar in Washington D.C.  Rebeccah can be reached at [email protected] 
or 917 524 9109

As Frank Sinatra would sing:  “No angel could replace, Nancy with the laughin’ face.”

Nancy, I really hope you get the last laugh.

Good night,