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Garden City Restaurant Owners Pushing Back Against Orders To Remove Outdoor Dining Structures: 'It's Illogical'

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There's a showdown over outdoor dining on Long Island.

Some restaurants in the village of Garden City are facing orders to remove structures put up at the start of the pandemic. Owners and customers say the timing couldn't be worse with COVID numbers surging.

The owners of Revel say their outdoor dining set-up has been a lifeline, but suddenly, they received a notice to take it down.

"We were just flabbergasted," owner Jim Doukas told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff. "We were approved to put up this structure."

Several popular Garden City restaurants have learned their permits for outdoor dining structures may be terminated.

"I don't know why they are doing this. It's just unreasonable. It's illogical," Doukas said. "Across the country, municipalities, cities are doing whatever they can to help these restaurants survive."

With the Delta variant surging and outdoor dining thriving, why is Garden City moving to shut down these structures? They cite fire safety, liability in village parking lots and complaints.

At a recent village meeting, owners say they were blindsided by the move to rescind permits in effect for 14 months.

"A lot of phone calls about just general sloppiness," one official in the meeting.

A fire chief explained, "Our concerns are from an access and operations standpoint ... These inhibit our ability to bring equipment and tools into the buildings."

"The board is not averse to having businesses thrive. That's not the point. The point is safety," Garden City Mayor Cosmo Veneziale said.

But why now?

After passionate pleas, the issue was tabled to allow time to address fire safety.

"But instead, I get a letter, cease and desist," Doukas said.

The Garden City mayor refused to comment.

The inability to resolve fire safety has many scratching their heads.

"There is still a pandemic going on," one woman said.

"It stimulates the economy, and it gives people a safer environment to eat in," one man said.

"Their time is up. You know, you gotta put the streets back so we can park," another man said.

"They should absolutely stay for the whole year," another person said.

Revel owner Francine Doukas also raised concerns about upcoming bookings.

"What are they supposed to do at the last minute? Try to find a venue to seat their party outdoors?" she said.

Restaurant owners are lobbying for a reprieve through petitions through state officials and attorneys, but so far, their structures are not coming down.

Editor's note: This story first appeared on August 13.

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