Now that Long Island has officially entered phase two of reopening, restaurants in villages around the county are starting to open their doors to customers again, at least their sidewalks and parking lots for now. The Village of Mineola has been planning ahead for this moment for quite some time and have been actively discussing how to revitalize local eateries who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira introduced a resolution at the village board’s June 3 meeting to temporarily suspend village zoning requirements to allow restaurants to obtain special use permits to operate outdoor dining. The resolution was unanimously passed by the board. The outdoor dining permits would require occupant safety from vehicular traffic and adequate social distancing standards.
“Every business in Mineola has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and some are just barely hanging on,” Deputy Mayor Pereira said at the meeting. “Our entire board feels that our village must consider any option possible to help our local businesses. This is just one step in that direction, but it will help both our restaurants and our residents who will be patronizing them.”
The village’s measures do not supersede state or county regulations, and indoor dining would still not be permitted until allowed by the state. Indoor dining won’t be allowed until Long Island hits phase three, which usually takes two weeks after the previous phase starts.
Mayor Scott Strauss noted that, while the board is still waiting for directives from state agencies on New York’s reopening, this is an important preparatory step so that Mineola businesses can be ready as soon as they are allowed to open further.
“The Village of Mineola began to prepare for the opening of restaurants and retails businesses even before the governor announced that outdoor dining would move from phase three to phase two,” Pereira said. “The mayor put together a reopening committee and asked me to chair it. We had meetings with business owners, both restaurants and retail, and members of the chamber of commerce to discuss how the village could best help these businesses in the reopening process. Long before the discussion of outdoor dining was heard in the news, the Village of Mineola was having discussions with restaurants about how we could do that.”
Also during the village board meeting, Pereira offered an outlining of the parameters of outdoor dining for restaurants in the village.
“We approved the purchase of 50 parking placards that we will place in strategic areas of the village to limit parking to curbside pick-up and delivery drivers only,” Pereira explained. “We have streamlined the application process for outdoor dining and have waived all fees. Although we do not have any immediate plans at this time to close down in the streets, that was something that was discussed and if necessary we will do. We have also discussed the use of municipal parking spots or parking lots where applicable for temporary use by businesses to have outdoor seating. Of course with all of this first and foremost the health and safety of our residents and visitors is paramount. So all of this will be done in a safe way both in terms of vehicle traffic and in terms of the pandemic.”
Pereira said that the village hopes its residents will come out in force and support the local businesses throughout these next few months.
“These businesses have suffered for three months and now it’s our turn to get back to them,” he said.
In nearby Garden City, the village board has also taken great strides to ensure their restaurants survive.
“We were cleared to open many of our restaurants on an outdoor dining basis,” Garden City Mayor Theresa Trouvé said. “This will involve closing Seventh Street and placing tables out in front and down into the street for our restaurants there, tables in the back of sections of Franklin Avenue east and west, New Hyde Park Road, even Kellum Place. Outdoor dining will take place Thursday through Sunday. Let’s not forget social distancing will be followed along with masks when it makes sense.”
In consultation with the village police, fire department, chamber of commerce, department of public works, Garden City’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously on a contingent plan to close Seventh Street and Kellum Place for 12 weeks, pending the filing and approval of an application for Municipal Extension with the New York State Liquor Authority. The trustees will review this plan every two weeks. Outdoor dining will take place between 5 and 10 p.m., which might last until October.