Chinatown Businesses Hunker Down for a Long Cold Winter
As winter descends upon the city, Chinatown restaurants are amidst the expensive process of hunkering down for a long winter of by weatherizing their outdoor dining spaces. While most have chosen to simply enclose their shacks with vinyl sheeting, others have innovated more creative designs, such as the “guard booths” of Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles or the “shed” of Ping’s Seafood.
But these are stopgap measures for overburdened restaurants in the face of another setback – Governor Cuomo’s return to banning indoor dining (effective yesterday). While I suspect this is a preemptive strategy to curb holiday gatherings, and hope the ban will be lifted shortly after the new year, I still wonder how many restaurants will join the “forever gone” list. Outside dining is fine in warm weather but not really an option below 50-degrees, which can also change the flavor and texture of foods; or the forced closure if a winter storm exceeds 12 inches of snow and outside dining booths must be altered again or possibly removed to allow for snow removal.
In addition, New York City recently populated a list for its LMI (lower middle income) storefront loans program which provides up to $100,00 in interest free loans to business owners. Yet, incredibly, the 10013 zip code, which encompasses Chinatown, was not included. Councilmember Margaret Chin, who was seen only once in Chinatown since February for a photo-op during the annual Danny Chen day, obviously missed the bus here.
It’s a long cold winter and it appears Chinatown businesses are left to fend for themselves again. Shovels or not.