What’s worse than a rainy Saturday afternoon? A rainy first Saturday of outdoor dining after months of waiting.
“That’s a pain,” said Jimmy, a bartender at Kenn’s Broome Street Bar in Soho as people deserted its outdoor terrace during an intense episode of rain. “We’re losing so much clients because of the weather. Usually it’d be crowded, especially on a Saturday afternoon.”
The makeshift wooden terrace was drenched, and people were rushing to empty their glasses and find shelter.
As many restaurants adjust to a new normal of outdoor dining during phase 2 of New York City’s reopening, the soggy weather is yet another hurdle.
On Saturday, Jonathan was working at La Durée, a big outdoor garden in the heart of Soho where people usually stop for an afternoon snack. He explained that bad weather resulted in a 30 percent slump in revenue during the afternoon. “Only nine tables are opened out of 35. As soon as it started raining, people left La Durée,” he lamented. It is usually quite rare that people cancel their reservation at this quiet, outdoor patio in the heart of busy Soho. “This can only happen because of the rain,” he said.
At Miss Ada, a Mediterranean restaurant in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the staff managed to keep busy as soon as the weather cleared up, especially on Saturday night.
Thanks to both the covered backyard patio and the partially covered sidewalk café, Miss Ada’s guests still managed to enjoy their first weekend of outdoor dining despite the occasional thunderstorms.
For Davide Poggi, owner of San Carlo on Thompson Street, a rainy weekend is the worst case scenario, especially after so many weeks of lockdown. “We are four working here, half of my payroll can’t work today because of a lack of clients,” said Poggi. The only positive thingis that the building’s scaffolding protects sidewalk diners from the rain. “I can’t wait to open the restaurant for indoor dining,” confessed Poggi, who has been working in New York for 11 years. “People appreciate being inside because they don’t suffer from the summer’s heat… and from the rain.”
Still, as some– including local politicians— express reservations about a return to indoor dining on July 6, when New York City is expected to enter phase 3, it’s clear that many will stick to eating outside.
“It sucks for us if it starts to rain,” complained Travis, an employee at The Pineapple Club who on Friday was anxious about the weekend forecast. The restaurant would have to “pull the tables in and close for the weekend” if the weather was bad, he said. Until indoor dining resumes, it will be counting on takeout and delivery to stay afloat.
For venues with covered terraces– like Pastis, the French venue in the Meatpacking District– weather isn’t as much of an issue. The big garden patio at Ten Hope, in Williamsburg, is equipped with sail shades and big umbrellas. At Le Crocodile, the French garden café in Williamsburg, a retractable covering can be engaged if it rains.
At Parklife, the 4,000-square-foot garden bar in Gowanus, people didn’t seem to mind the weekend showers, according to Julie Kim, who is in charge of press relations. “I think everyone just wanted to be outside,” she said, noting that diners were protected by umbrellas and a big awning. “If there is a huge storm system that is heading our way, we will likely switch to takeout only.”
After Sunday’s evening’s downpour, Beaubourg, the French Brasserie in Battery Park, ended the weekend with a busy line for takeout after Sunday’s evening’s downpour. During uncertain times, the takeout system was “a huge plus,” according to one employee.
“The Covid crisis is still around the corner, it’s still very bad,” noted Alex, a customer waiting for takeout at Beaubourg. If the rain discouraged some from going out, “I’d say it’s not a bad thing.”