New York restaurant opens for the first time as state loosens lockdown restrictions

April 15 was set to be the grand opening of Chef Steven Rosenbluth’s restaurant Anchor Down Dockside on Long Island, N.Y. However, with coronavirus closures, work on Rosenbluth’s new restaurant halted and all plans were put on hold.

“We spoke to all the other owners in the area and we worked together and we got through [the pandemic]. Most of us got through it,” Rosenbluth told Fox News. “It’s a shame that some restaurants haven’t reopened or aren’t going to reopen. The restaurant business is hard enough, throw a pandemic in the mix and it’s been difficult.”

Their difficulties are only growing as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to slow the reopening of indoor dining for parts of New York on Monday.

When Nassau County was ready for Phase 2 of the Democratic governor’s reopening plan, which included outdoor dining, the longtime chef had five days to get the grand opening for his restaurant ready for June 10.

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“And then it was all right, hurry up. Get it ready and we opened with stickers on the front door from the old restaurant,” Rosenbluth said.

During its Phase 2 opening, Anchor Down Dockside served 34 customers at a time, which is roughly 50 percent of its outdoor dining seating. It also has access to three boat slips, which Rosenbluth says has been a big help.

“I think New Yorkers are smart and we’re doing what we can to prevent it. We’re wearing our masks and things like that.”

The seasoned chef added that he hasn’t “had any problems with people [wearing] masks in the restaurant.” However, the inside of his restaurant is not yet open for indoor dining. Although Anchor Down Dockside is eligible for indoor dining, Rosenbluth says his restaurant is taking extra precautions to stop the spread of the virus. 

Another way his restaurant is helping prevent the spread is by using “high-end” disposable utensils and disposable bamboo plates. He is also keeping with New York state regulations by having sanitizing stations “all over the restaurant” and placing markers on the floor so customers who are waiting are sure to be 6 feet apart.

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Overall, Rosenbluth says that he’s happy to be back to work and his customers are happy to be back out.

“It’s like you’re back to civilization when you’re dining out. So you make it even more special because we have that extra time with less people in the restaurant,” Rosenbluth added. “I think it’s going to help lead to better service.”