For the first time in nearly two months, restaurants like Jaew Hon,a Thai style hotpot joint in queens are allowed to see diners.
Its the first step to eased out of coronavirus restrictions,one familiar to owners of tiny ethnic restaurants and the customers nationwide.
Im ecstatic to reopen my restaurant and many of my employees are as well.
Were hopeful that our customers would still remember us,because we had to shut down the business for quite some time.
Jaew Hon its just one of the 92 percent of eateries that could not pay full rent in Decemberaccording to a new survey by the New York city hospitality alliance.
The restaurant like many in New York still needs a lifeline.
The landlord reduced the rent by half, that helped,but the Jaew Hon specialty paper thin slices of meat and vegetablescooked at the table by diners tipping them in boiling broth doesnt really work as takeout.
I used the money from the payment protection plan to bring my staff back on payroll.
I tried everything to keep my business goingfrom offering takeout to giving discounts on delivery orders, but it didnt work.
No one wanted to eat hot pot at home.
Jaew Hon opted out of serving hot pot outdoors due to safety concerns in a neighborhoodknown for its bustling pedestrian in traffic.
So when the restaurant opened this week fans returned.
This is like my go-to after a hard day at work.
So its been kind of hard to like unwind without it.
Im happy to be back inside.
Dining outdoors in the streets during the winter makes it difficult to enjoy the food and ambience.
But even as customers return,Jaew Hon says there still struggles because restaurants can only see 25 percent of that capacity at a time.
Some customers have asked if we take reservations,but I have to tell them that I can only service a few people at a given time.
I wish the state would allow me to open up more than 25 percent of the seating capacity.
Ive taken a loss of revenue because of that.
But as a start as the number of covid 19 cases falls and more people get vaccinated.
So Dara is hopeful that her hotpot hot spot will soon enjoy a profitable new normal.
Janine Pacquiao VOA news New York