Restaurants welcome loosening of restrictions

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Restaurant owners in New York State are adjusting as one COVID-19 related restriction has been lifted and another will be within weeks.

State lawmakers officially moved Wednesday to terminate an Executive Order Governor Andrew Cuomo issued in July, which required patrons to purchase food with alcohol in restaurants. Hours before the vote, Cuomo announced the midnight curfew for restaurants would be repealed in May. The curfew for outdoor dining will be lifted on May 17th, while the curfew for indoor dining will be lifted on May 31st.

Tommy Cowan, the owner of Forty Thieves in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, says the changes should help revenues climb closer to where they would normally be.

“Because people are spending,” Cowan said. “People are spending.”

The Senate first voted to adopt a concurrent resolution withdrawing the requirement that people by food with alcohol Wednesday, with the Assembly following suit. The change takes effect immediately. Both votes were bipartisan.

“While the governor issued a wide range of executive orders to protect New Yorkers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to safely repeal measures that are no longer necessary,” said Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Lancaster Democrat who sponsored the resolution in the Assembly.

“While this is a welcome step, it has taken far too long to get here,” said Amherst Republican Senator Ed Rath.

Cowan, the Forty Thieves owner, believes this will help his staffing.

“I think you’ll start seeing tables being flipped more, and less stress on the kitchens,” he said. “The guys are overworked. They’re tired. And it’s hard to find replacements.”

As for the eventual lifting of the curfew, Cowan believes it will still be a while before his bar is packed in the early morning hours.

“I think a lot of people are used to going out early right now,” Cowan said. “So I think by 1 o’clock, 2 a.m. you’re going to start seeing a dwindle in business anyway.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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