First it was Gov, Andrew Cuomo, now it’s Mother Nature…
Big Apple restaurants coping with Monday’s closure of indoor dining are now staring down the prospects of a massive snowstorm that will force them to close outdoor dining setups under new guidance issued by the Department of Sanitation.
Under the rules, the DSNY will be sending out one of two alerts to eateries in the Open Restaurants program — a “winter operations advisory” and “snow alert.”
The latter will be issued if one or more inches of snow is expected and will require restaurants to shutter roadway dining by the time indicated in the alert — which is when the storm is expected to hit.
Marco Chirico, the owner of Brooklyn’s Marco Polo Ristorante and next-door eatery Enoteca, said the upcoming storm is the prime reason indoor dining shouldn’t have been suspended.
“I wouldn’t be so mad to close my outdoor if I had my indoor still,” Chirico said of the latest blow to his family-owned business.
“In the winter season, you know you’re going to have snow, you know you’re going to have rain and storms and with the cold, it’s impossible to really eat outside,” Chirico continued.
“They just put a nail in the coffin really for a lot of places.”
The DSNY rules will also require businesses to “remove or secure” outdoor dining furniture, put away electric heaters and take down the tops of their structures “if possible” to make room for plows, the agency said.
If more than 12 inches is forecast, structures — including barriers — must be removed or consolidated “to take up as little space as possible.”
“[Restaurants] are expected to do the best they can to protect their property. This guidance is about making sure when a big plow comes down the street, diners and property owners are protected,” DSNY spokesperson Joshua Goodman told The Post.
“This isn’t about issuing fines, this isn’t about getting anyone in trouble, it’s about we have to clear the roads so please do what you can to be safe and ready.”
Under a “winter operations advisory,” when generally under an inch of accumulation is expected, outdoor dining can continue but restaurants and diners should be prepared for salt spreaders coming down the streets.
Restaurants will also have to “take steps to protect patrons, staff and property,” the agency said.
The Sanitation Department has already implemented the warning system, issuing a “winter operations advisory” for Monday, which saw a frigid mix of rain and snow.
As much as a foot of snow is expected Wednesday in the Big Apple and Goodman said a snow alert could be issued soon.
Pre-existing outdoor dining structures that aren’t part of the Open Restaurants program, like sidewalk areas and backyard patios, will be allowed to stay open in case diners still feel like going out in the middle of a storm, Goodman said.
No restaurants will be expected to dismantle their outdoor dining setups, Goodman said.
In case any anticipated snowstorms are a bust, the city will announce when roadway dining can resume “as soon as it is safe.”