NYC Prepares for Indoor Dining – What to Know

Originally Published : February 11, 2021

After a flurry of activity, it’s back to waiting.  For the bailout, for 50% or more indoors, for the second hit of PPP, for vaccinations and for tangible evidence that we are on our way out of the darkness.  On that tip, and because mass vaccinations are what will ultimately bring us to post-pan, here are some encouraging words uttered by The Fauch today:

“I would imagine by the time we get to April….virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.” He also said the he hoped the overwhelming majority of people in the United States could be vaccinated by mid- to late summer.  Remember, we start talking herd immunity when we hit a 70% vaccination rate for the country, so, we will be watching that carefully.

So, for planning, it looks like we are still on target for things to start opening up wider in May/June and then more steadily throughout the summer.  We could be back to fully open and operating by Labor Day.  I’m not going to see that tunnel light though until we can prove that the required number of Americans will do their duty and get jabbed.  Still, this is good news and I remain very, very optimistic about the second half of the year.

Andrew “The Spatula”Cuomo continues his impressive streak of flipping and flopping as he recognized the absurdity of reopening on Valentine’s Day and pushed it up to tomorrow.  It’s simply further evidence that he is not consulting with the industry before making decisions that affect us.  It’s very frustrating that he’s so clueless.

Joey Regs says…

Some quick regulatory hits, as we all prepare for reopening indoor dining:
The 10:00 PM “Curfew” is still in effect. 
Just because indoor dining is being eased back in, does NOT mean, we can all serve beyond the mandated end of service time.  The current mandate is that on-premise service of any kind must stop at or before 10:00 PM, seven days a week.  Take-out and to-go [food only], however, can still continue after 10:00 PM.  My personal anticipation, is that you will see State enforcement people out in full force this weekend, specifically looking for violators of this rule.  Be careful.
Outdoor structure rules are still in effect.
Remember the rules w/r/t outdoor structures – two sides open, blah blah blah?  Well, they’re still a thing.  Outdoor structures that don’t comply will be considered to be “indoor” and will thus be limited to 25% capacity limits.  Violations on this point are still running rampant, and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.
Is 25% indoor dining going to save anybody’s business?  No.  But it’s something, and it’s a move in the right direction.  Everybody be safe, be careful, be vigilant, and let’s hope that this ratchets up to 50% sooner rather than later. 

Vaccine Policy by Lee Jacobs, Chair, Employment Group

Since the onset of the vaccine rollout, we have received many questions regarding the ability for employers to enforce a mandatory vaccination policy.  Well, the answer is now yes.  Recently, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released guidance that allows employers to enforce a policy that requires its staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, there are certain exceptions that must be documented in a written policy that must be provided to all employees (and prospective hires).  In order to enforce such a mandatory vaccination rule with a non-unionized work force, the following two perquisites must be in place: 

  1. the vaccine must be generally available to your employee population; and
  2. employers must provide exceptions for those who cannot be vaccinated due to their personal health or a disability, and/or sincerely held religious beliefs.

You should also take into account that, if you require your employees to be vaccinated, the time they spend actually getting vaccinated may be deemed working time under applicable law and they should therefore be paid for that time.  

If you should have any questions about instituting a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy and/or need assistance in drafting such a written policy to enforce same, please do not hesitate to contact Lee Jacobs, Partner and Chair of the Employment Practices Group at [email protected]


Mopping up and Moving On: Cleaning Up Covid  and Planning for Post-Pan

Tuesday, February 23rd at 11:00AM to 12:30PM

It’s time to get your house in order as we prepare for the big return of restaurants and bars in NYC.  We will discuss how to clean up your books and loans and safety protocols and what’s coming next in the world of NYC commercial real estate and the rent scene and more Landy issues of course.  

David Helbraun will moderate and panelists will include:

 – Beth Torin – Health and Safety Consultant and past Executive Director of the Food & Safety Division of the NYC Dept. of Health.

– Greg Scotto – Restaurant Industry accountant and lead PPP/ERC point person for Helbraun Levey clients.

– Cosmo Montemurro – Real Estate broker to the hospitality industry and Principal at Murro Realty.

 – Mayan Bouskila – Chair, HL Real Estate Group

– Maya Petrocelli – Chair, HL Litigation Group

We will discuss the following topics:

– PPP applications and forgiveness rules
– Landy and leases – workouts and 1932A
– Health and safety protocols
– Interacting with Government agencies
– NYC commercial rentals and the outlook for the next year
– Federal grant program

Please register here:

APPLY: LIVE VENUE ASSISTANCE by Alexa Santory, Licensing Clerk

The NYC Office of Nightlife has just launched CURTAINS UP NYC, a program that provides application assistance to live performance venues, organizations, and workers applying for federal relief! The launch of this program is in conjunction with the Shuttered Venue Operator’s Grant, aka Save Our Stages, the grant program geared towards performance venue operators who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Live entertainment has been shuttered in NYC since mid-March of 2020, with little to no end in sight for these business owners and performers alike. Curtains Up NYC will provide instructional webinars, application assistance, and other free services to performance venue owners who need help with the grant application process.

The SVO Grant, which was announced in December, includes $15 billion in grants up to $10 million for shuttered venues. Who can apply for these grants? The list includes operators or promoters of businesses that have live performances, live performing arts organizations, movie theaters, and theater producers to name a few! Businesses must have been operating as of February 29, 2020 and must not have applied for a PPP loan after December 27, 2020.


We often have clients that have opportunities that we think our other clients might like.  So, instead of me texting or phoning, we will post them here.  If you have a good opportunity that you want to advertise (no fee of course, all karma) send me an email and if it’s truly a good one, I’ll post it.

TurnKey Food Production Space by Mohan Kumar, Oddfellows

We’re moving out and looking for someone to take over our production facility. The landlord is amazing/friendly (very rare in these times) and has been very helpful in helping us sublease the space.  This would be a new lease with the landlord directly (so everyone avoids a messy sublease situation).  The landlord values local producers! 

Approximately 3,500 square feet of production space in a single story building with curb cut and new sidewalk just off the Jefferson L Train. Everything is new (built under 2 years ago) including HVAC, all new plumbing and electric. 1,200 amps (3-phase) Electric. 300 Square foot -30F walk in Freezer, 100 square foot walk in cooler included. Beautiful polished concrete floors. Ready to move in. Super easy to add a Hood + Ansul system. Currently used as a frozen dessert production facility. There is potential if you would like to also add a retail to your frontage, but the space lays out as production mainly. 

Contact Mohan at: [email protected] 

R.I.P. – Hall of Fame NYC restaurateur, Joe Allen; The Supreme Mary Wilson, Master Character Actor; Hal Holbrook, Legendary Actress; Cicely Tyson,  The Champ; Leon Spinks and Screech.

Final note;  If you want to comment on anything you see here in the newsletter or if you have any questions or just to say hi, you can just reply  to this email as your email will come directly to me. 

As Jerry and the Boys liked to say:  Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.