Money, Clusters, Heaters and More…

Originally Published : October 12, 2020


We just have to accept that everything is going to be melodramatic and steroidal from here until the Inauguration and that the things we need from our Dearly Elected are going to come slowly and painfully, if at all.  And we should also expect that it will all come with a heaping scoop of absolute insanity and inanity so buckle in.

All we need to survive is some money. It’s not complicated.  We need money to get from here to the Spring and then we hope that we can make a go of it.  Money can be easily minted so this shoulda been a piece of cake. And it was getting there.  After much delay, Speaker P and Mnooch were finally on their way to carving out a deal.  He gave, she gave, he came up, she came down and they Do Si Do’ed their way to a place where they both could spin it as a victory and yay for our team and the public wins and restaurants get more money and we all breathe a little easier. It was going to happen until….

DT pulled his face from his Cheeto bowl, breathed a sneakily heavy breath and, in his Covid cocktail delirium, blew it all up just because he needed the attention.  But the stunt backfired and the public response did not suit DT’s ego so he ordered Mnooch back to the table to clean up his mess. In fact, DT has totally reversed course and now says he wants more stimulus money than proposed by either the D’s or R’s.  Go figure.  So, the R’s are at 1.9 Trills and the D’s are at 2.2 Trills and they still can’t get it done?  I think it’s time for Speaker P to take what she can get and save the republic and then deal with the shortcomings later.  Let’s go already and stop with the gamesmanship.

Remember though, that even if they can agree on the price tag, Mitch and the Sideparts over there in the Senate still need the conservative R’s to harumph, yada yada and vote yea to make it so and many R elders don’t like the government to spend too much so there’s that. Ultimately, if the White House and Speaker P. come to a deal, the R’s will have very little choice in the matter as they are all in the muck with DT.  I think they will get something done by the end of the week and that it will be to Speaker P.’s liking.  The R’s just need it more than the D’s and the country won’t make it without it.

Oh, and Mnooch and Meadows are also talking about a standalone Bill to make more PPP available but Speaker P. thumbed her nose at that while she holds out for a better deal.  We are watching all developments and will keep you posted.

NYC Update:

Here in New York, local battles that also have a great effect on the industry are being fought.  The Governor and De Mayor are all over each other and Mr. Cuomo is just tearing apart our sad sack mayor over how, when and where to shut down parts of the city.  Again, we ain’t got no time for their patty cake meltdowns as we need someone to lead us and protect all that NY has achieved in the past 7 months.  Just get out there, both of you, and stop being babies and govern.  In addition to money, we also need the SLA and DOT and DOH to get their shit together and, at the very least, stop giving restaurants such a goddamn hard time.  

A client of ours, located in a Brooklyn hot spot, was inspected twelve times over the weekend by HPD. The inspector would leave and a new one would pop by 45 minutes later to conduct the exact same inspection! Why the NYC Department of Housing and Preservation you ask?  Who the hell knows!? Cuomo and De Mayor have deputized rando government employees to carry out the inspections and, of course, they are disorganized.  The inspections last about 15 minutes and they are inspecting that you have all of your health and safety paperwork in order. Some of the inspectors are sweet and some of them are DMV nasty.  Mostly, they just give verbal warnings before going on break.

Covid Recovery Fee Update– It looks like October 16th will be the first day that restaurants will be permitted to add a surcharge of up to a 10% on the check.  It’s October 16th because that’s 30 days after the City Council passed the bill and if De Mayor doesn’t sign it into law or veto it before then, it becomes law.  Yes, De Mayor can’t muster the energy to lift a f’in pen and sign it into law earlier. No rush buddy.  We’re all good.

1932A Update -We are still waiting for the judge to make a decision.  Again, take your time judge, we have all the time in world.

Now, here’s Joey Regs to tell you about heaters, cluster zones and other regs

Joey Regs Says:

Last week, our Mayor decided that he was going to shut down indoor and outdoor dining in restaurants throughout NYC, based on the emergence of some clusters within the City where the infection rates for COVID-19 had spiked.  Thankfully, our Governor jumped in shortly thereafter to veto this plan.  He has, however, presented a new restrictive plan, to deal with containing the clusters.  It’s better than De Blasio’s knee-jerk shut it all down option, and doesn’t quite threaten the immediate existence and well-being of all restaurants, but may still pose challenges for some of you.  Today’s special edition will cover everything you need to know about the new cluster closure plan for NYC.

It’s the Governor’s Executive Order 202.68 that we’re talking about here.  This order directs the State Department of Health to determine areas of NYS that are spiking with Covid cases and restrict activity in those cluster areas.

Within the five boroughs, we have zones of note within Queens (2) and Brooklyn (1).  So far, Manhattan, Shaolin and The Boogie Down are all still safe.  The Brooklyn Cluster Zone Map can be found HERE ; And there are two Queens Cluster Zone Maps HERE and HERE.  Please check these maps and see where your location falls.  If you are NOT within any color, there’s nothing to do [except to stay vigilant with the administering of your safety protocols].  If you are within a Red, Orange or Yellow zone, then please reference our quick guide below, to see how you may have to adjust your operations.  And if finding your location on any of those maps is too annoying, challenging, or time-consuming, here’s an even simpler option: Search by address.

There are three color-coded areas on these maps: Red (Cluster Area Itself); Orange (“Warning Zone”); Yellow (“Precautionary Zone”).  A breakdown of each area, and corresponding restrictions are below.  We’ve highlighted the most salient points for our industry here as well.

Red Zone – Cluster Itself

Activity Restrictions Include:

  • No non-essential gatherings of any size
  • Houses of worship are subject to a capacity limit of 25% of maximum occupancy or 10 persons – whichever is lower
  • Restaurants and taverns must cease serving patrons food or beverage on-premise and ONLY be open for take-out and delivery
  • Schools must cease with in-person instruction, except as otherwise provided in the Executive Order
  • All Non-essential businesses in this Red Zone, which do not meet the provided criteria shall reduce in-person workforce by 100% 

*Check Executive Order HERE  for details about what qualifies as Essential v. Non-essential businesses.

Orange Zone – Warning Zone
Activity Restrictions Include:

  • Non-essential gatherings shall be limited to 10 people
  • Houses of worship are subject to a capacity limit of the lesser of 33% of maximum occupancy or 25 persons, whichever is fewer
  • Restaurants and taverns must cease serving patrons food or beverage inside on-premise, but are able to continue with outdoor service, take-out and delivery, provided that any one seated group does not exceed 4 persons.
  • Schools must cease with in-person instruction, except as otherwise provided in the Executive Order
  • Certain non-essential businesses, for which there is a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19 shall reduce in-person workforce by 100%; such businesses include:
    • Gyms, fitness centers or classes
    • Hair salons or barber shops
    • All other personal care services, including but not limited to: spas, tattoo parlors, nail salons, cosmetologists, estheticians, las hair removal and electrolysis providers

Yellow Zone – Precautionary Zone

Activity Restrictions Include:

  • Non-essential gatherings shall be limited to no more than 25 people
  • Houses of worship are subject to a capacity limit of 50% of its maximum occupancy and shall adhere to Department of Health guidance
  • Restaurants and taverns must limit any one seated group or party size to 4 people
  • Schools shall adhere to applicable guidance issued by the Department of health regarding mandatory testing of students and school personnel

While we are talking about clusters, let’s discuss the clusterfuck that surrounds. new outdoor dining protocols vis-a-vis heaters.  It’s been a little over two weeks since the NYC brass announced that outdoor dining was here to stay, and that to make it workable in the colder months, heaters would be allowed.  We were told what kind of heaters would be allowed where, and how to be [theoretically] compliant.  We were also told that official rules, guidelines and a registration portal to register your premises and its heaters would be live “any day now.”  Well, not only has this deadline been blown, but it seems that no NYC agencies actually know about the Mayor’s plan for any of this.  And what’s worse, is that there are enforcement personnel out there, writing violations!  

We’re doing everything we can to push here, and I know things are moving in the right direction – just not fast enough.  As soon as we have more details on this super crucial issue, we will be sure to update you.  In the interim, we’re looking into the most effective ways of organizing to have our collective voices heard. 

On a more positive note, our friends at the NYC Hospitality Alliance have partnered together with DoorDash, to provide $5,000 grants to qualifying restaurants, to assist with the costs of outdoor heating. DoorDash has committed $500,000 to the program and the program will stay open for applications until November 6th.

In order to apply, restaurants must have three locations or fewer, and 50 employees or less per location. The application has not been released yet, but it is set to go live on October 16th. You can follow the link below and sign up to get more information.

Joey Regs out.

R.I.P – Eddie Van Halen.  I was 10 when the first Van Halen album came out and by 14 I had the Diver Down album cover painted on the back of my jean jacket.  Here is one that made me a fan:

R.I.P – Tom Terrific, Joe Morgan, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Gayle Sayers. All legends.  Johnny Nash, Helen Reddy, Mac Davis. 

and of course RBG.  She was everything.