Assemblyman wants to expand restaurant capacity two days early, to capture St. Paddy’s business

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office.
Spectators watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City in 2018. A state assemblyman is suggesting the governor easy restaurant seating restrictions two days early so that struggling restaurants can be open to capture St. Patrick’s Day business, which is typically brisk.

Restaurants statewide can increase their capacity once again, beginning on March 19, but Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo is calling for an earlier start date so that struggling businesses take advantage of St. Patrick’s Day business. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s looser restrictions will increase restaurant capacity outside of New York City to 75% and those in the city to 50% in mid-March. 

Yet, Gandolfo argues that restaurants would fare better with an extra two days, asking Cuomo to increase capacity starting March 17.

“While I am happy that the governor announced an increase in restaurant capacity throughout the state, why can’t it go into effect sooner? If it’s safe for 75% capacity (or 50% in New York City) on the 19th, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be safe on the 17th,” Gandolfo said this week. 


Gandolfo argues that restaurants should be open in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that often brings in a great deal of revenue for restaurants and bars in New York state. 

New York restaurants have been struggling to stay above water for a year now, and many don’t feel their losses will be made up any time soon. 

According to a recent survey by the New York State Restaurant Association, 30% of restaurant operators predict it will be at least seven to ten months before “business conditions return to normal.” Another 35% believe it will take over a year, and 14% say the effects of the pandemic are irreversible. 

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of NYSRA, says restaurants are in need of support, and has asked Cuomo and the state to do more to support the industry. Fleischut also pointed out that despite their struggles, restaurants have still been able to give back to their communities. 

Fleischut said restaurants in the state are “integral to local economies. They have opened their spaces to others struggling during the pandemic and continue to charge ahead in the face of perilous circumstances.” She, along with Gandolfo, believe it’s time the state give back.

“I have faith that restaurants owners and patrons can continue to follow the safety guidelines which have been working to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Gandolfo, R-Sayville.  “I strongly urge Governor Cuomo to implement the increased capacity limit just two days sooner – doing so would be a lifeline to the struggling industry.”

Gandolfo has advocated for the bar and restaurant industry since he assumed his Assembly seat in January. In early February, he drafted legislation in hopes of extending restaurant curfews from 10:00pm to midnight in hopes of giving restaurant operators more revenue on Super Bowl Sunday.

With COVID case and death numbers decreasing, and the New York population receiving vaccinations in greater numbers, Gandolfo believes it’s time we give these restaurants another boost. “We cannot continue to abandon them any longer. These entrepreneurs and their families deserve our faith that they can comply and behave responsibly.”