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NYC Restaurant Owners Trying To Wrap Their Heads Around All The Changes They'll Have To Make In Order To Reopen

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- For the second month in a row since the outbreak of COVID-19, New York state restaurants have been among the hardest hit in the country.

It's leaving many owners thinking about how they will run their restaurants once they're allowed to fully reopen, CBS2's Charlie Cooper reported Tuesday.

MORECoronavirus Pandemic Posing Serious Challenges To Restaurants Struggling To Survive Or Reopen

With coronavirus guidelines like social distancing in place, reopening restaurants will mean major challenges ahead.

Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association, said safety, sanitation, and proper training of employees are key.

"Social distancing is a challenge in a kitchen for sure. Face coverings are also a challenge, just because it gets to be so hot in the kitchen sometimes. I've heard a better alternative could be face shields," Fleischut said.


Fleischut said when they're allowed to reopen, restaurants are expecting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the local health department and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Right now, many of their recommendations come from the National Restaurant Association.

"They're also talking about thinking forward, how you have maybe self-serve condiments. How can you offer a menu that's either a disposable menu, can you have menus on their phones that they could look up through that way," Fleischut said.

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There's also discussion around restaurants placing tables at least six feet apart. Joshua Frank, owner of Tampopo Ramen, said that will be difficult in the small eatery.

"We have an open kitchen format right now that we're looking into maybe putting up some kind of [plastic sheets] separating the cooks from the diners. It's a small space. There's only so much we can do," Frank said.

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Cuomo has spoken about the possibility of moving restaurant operations outdoors, but there are no plans in place yet.

"We are working with the City Council now on legislation to help make it easier to get those sidewalk café permits and make it affordable for restaurants to do so,' Fleischut said.

Space is less of a problem in larger restaurants like Jeremy Merrin's Havana Central, but his challenge will be securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees.

"We have to secure our own masks, our own gloves. We're going to have to go checking everybody's temperature. A lot of us have a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs that we're not going to see real robust business for at least until we get a vaccine," Merrin said.

But Merrin said he hopes that being overly prepared and having proper safety measures in place might help.

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