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New York City Schools Will Reopen For In-Person Classes Wednesday; Outdoor Dining Resumes For City Restaurants

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City public schools will return for in-person classes Wednesday, following a major winter storm that dumped more than a foot of snow.

The powerful storm buried streets and sidewalks across the city, and snow continued to fall Tuesday morning.

WATCH: Mayor Bill De Blasio Shares Latest Storm Briefing 

Subway and commuter rail service was back on track, but those who travel by car had a lot of digging out to do.

The ban on non-essential travel expired at 6 a.m., but officials urged people to stay off the roads so plows could get around.

LISTEN: NYC Sanitation Commissioner Edward Grayson On Storm Cleanup Efforts 

Even before the last of the snow fell in Astoria, Queens, the dig-out began. As CBS2's John Dias reported, most of the roads were plowed Tuesday and there was plenty of blacktop, but cars and sidewalks were a different story.

"I actually started making a little hole last night," resident Patrick Ayer told Dias.

LINKSCheck The Latest Forecast I Winter Storm Survival Guide

At Mighty Oak Roasters coffee shop, workers spent hours clearing the way for customers.

"It's pretty funny. You'd be surprised, people will do anything for their coffee," employee Samantha Pawlak said. "So people will still come out and get it."

PHOTOS: Powerful Winter Storm Dumps Snow Across Tri-State Area

Dias also spoke with one woman, named Helen, who some would argue had the best idea -- she hired someone to shovel.

"I just pay him and then just go upstairs and rest," she said.

LINK: Share Your Storm Photos And Videos

Just in time for the morning rush, outdoor subway service resumed. It shutdown Monday afternoon, forcing some to hurry home before the closure.

"If we didn't close early, I wouldn't have gotten home on the trains. I would've had to Uber or find some kind of way," Queens commuter Juan De Leon said.

Like many day rate workers, De Leon said if the subways didn't run Tuesday, he would have missed out on making money.

"It affected it, so I'm glad they're open today," he said.


The Department of Sanitation commissioner said crews would spend the rest of the day concentrating on residential areas.

"From 8 a.m. onward, we did employ our first shift of the emergency snow laborer program," said Commissioner Edward Grayson. "At the pedestrian crosswalks, and do some catch basins and the hydrants."

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the sanitation department's hard work during his Tuesday briefing.

"It will certainly end up being one of the bigger snowstorms we've had recently, but thank God the vast majority of it is over," de Blasio said . "Even though there was more work to do, for sure, folks felt that the effort was really good and they could see that we'd be back and running quickly."

Watch John Dias' report --

The mayor also said outdoor dining could resume starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but the reopening fell flat for many restaurants as their outdoor dining structures sat empty.

The tables outside the Mansion Restaurant on the Upper East Side have sat mostly empty for at least 48 hours. John Philips is the owner.

"We get the occasional customer who comes in when the weather breaks a little bit, but the snow, the rain and the temperatures really holds people back," he said.

CBS2 did find a few customers willing to brave the cold and snow just to support the Mansion and its employees.

"When we are on the other side of this, we want them to still be here," one diner said.

RELATED STORY: Looking For A Job? NYC Hiring People To Shovel Snow In Winter Storm Aftermath

For restaurant owners and their employees, the snow storm was yet another bump in a very long road that started with the pandemic.

Leon Ellis owns Chocolat Restaurant and Bar in Harlem.

"It seems to me like every time something happens to make it seem like it's going to be OK, it's a major setback," he told CBS2's Nick Caloway.

The only light at the end of this dark tunnel -- indoor dining resumes on Valentine's Day, but only at 25% capacity.

RELATED STORY: NYC Restaurants Can Resume Indoor Dining At 25% Capacity On Valentine's Day, Cuomo Says

Jeremy Wladis, who owns Harvest Kitchen on the Upper West Side, says that's a start, albeit a late one.

"We need all the help we can get just to keep people. We lose money every single day," he said.

One restaurant owner told CBS2 he wouldn't want to sit outside and eat in the cold either, but he's grateful for the people who are willing to tough it out for a good meal.


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