Outdoor dining boom in Queens garners mixed reaction from residents and restaurant owners

File photo by Dean Moses


While much has been lost after months of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, something has been gained. And it’s filling the streets with people and good food.

Much like the rest of the city, Queens residents have taken to outdoor dining, filling seats in roadside eateries across the borough. But much like any aspect of the COVID-19 response, residents have varying opinions on outdoor dining.

“I like how restaurants are reopening. The idea of outside dining and having tables out in the streets feels new,” one diner in Flushing wished to remain anonymous, told QNS.

For some, the popularity of outdoor dining has actually become a turn-off.

“Things seem like they are back to normal, but sometimes you have to wait in line or make reservations to eat outside,” said another diner, who also requested to remain anonymous.

While many have claimed to be delighted and relieved to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives, others worry that the continued reopening will lead to another spike of positive coronavirus tests.

“Being outside feels like I’m getting freedom, but not all of it. Just because people are back at work, it does not mean precautions should be ignored. It irritates me to see uncovered faces on the street,” said a Queens teenager who attends the Bronx High School of Science.

Similarly, restaurant owners and employees confessed to having mixed emotions regarding outdoor dining.

La Nueva Amistad, a Colombian bakery in Flushing, has reported dramatic fluctuations in sales following the opening of phase four.

“Weather changes make [sales] very inconsistent,” said Maria, an employee at La Nueva Amistad who requested her last name not be used. “We’ve lost a lot of daily customers and they don’t like it when it rains.”

Representatives of Blue Bay Diner in Oakland Gardens describe outdoor dining as a positive, revolutionary way to maintain the restaurant.

“Sales have definitely gone up. Before, they were very slow and now they’ve gone up about 100 percent,” said Chris, an employee at the diner who also requested his last name not be used.

Although opinions on reopening were scattered, all individuals agreed that the concept of serving and eating meals outdoors was refreshing.

“[Phase four] has given us an opportunity to try out outdoor dining, in terms of decorations and setting up. It’s not a bad idea, even for after the pandemic ends,” Maria said.

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