NEW YORK - Mathias Van Leyden is anxiously waiting to serve his customers again. He opened his French restaurant Loulou in Chelsea in February and then closed it for dining due to the pandemic just one month later. Now, he has markers on the ground outside for where tables will be placed six feet apart come Monday.
“The requirements are the 6 feet distancing, my staff is wearing masks. Kitchen staff is wearing masks, the customer should be wearing masks to they’re seated. My whole staff knows about it. We had a meeting about it," said Van Leyden.
Monday marks Phase 2 of re-opening in New York City. That means you can dine outdoors at restaurants. Hair salons and barbershops can also reopen, as well as many other nonessential businesses. It’s a milestone many New Yorkers have been waiting for.
Just down 8th Avenue, diners were eating outside at Zizi, a Mediterranean spot. The head chef told FOX 5 NY that the customers weren’t being served, but they could take their food to-go and eat in front of the restaurant using their tables. Some owners feel the risk of a fine is worth raking in some money.
“Really every dollar counts. These days we’re not even making money right now. The only reason we’re open is to keep our team on the payroll,” said Liran Leibman, Head Chef and co-owner of Zizi.
Legal or not, neighbors in the area told FOX 5 NY they don’t really seem to mind, as long as safety precautions are being followed.
The city is launching a pilot program that would close off certain streets to traffic in order to let restaurants expand their seating.