Today’s heavy winds tore through scaffolding, trees, and — just as we feared — at least one streetery. Earlier today, the author and East Village resident Jeremiah Moss saw this plywood shelter lifted by the wind and flipped over into a traffic lane on First Avenue:
The unsettlingly airborne structure belongs to Boshir Khan, the owner of Panna II, an Indian restaurant (known for its colorful indoor lights) near East 6th Street. Earlier today, his employees alerted him that it had been blown over while he was still at home in Queens. Khan tells us it’s the third time this has happened (!), adding that he hasn’t been able to install a sturdier structure because of the expense; this one, he says, cost him $2,000, and more substantial ones can cost more than ten times that figure. “If you want to do it permanently, it’s a lot of money,” he says. Even though he’s already looking into putting it back up, Khan says he’s still unsure about how plausible outdoor dining will be once the weather turns from chilly to flat-out cold: “We have a heater and everything, and people [still] don’t want to sit down.” Over the past two weeks, Khan says, no diner has wanted to eat outside.
Restaurateurs now have a December 15 deadline to fully adapt their structures to the winter, based on the city’s newest guidelines (which, by the way, include rules that the structures be weighed down with sand, a measure meant to keep them from being demolished by snowplows but also likely to counteract winter storm winds). Meanwhile, as COVID cases continue to rise in New York, the possibility of another citywide shutdown of indoor dining looms.