Thanks for nuthin!
A Staten Island diner owner was left with a mass of canceled reservations — and dozens of spare turkeys — after abruptly finding out his business would have to shutter for Thanksgiving due to new coronavirus restrictions.
“It feels like the rug has been ripped out from under us,” Kostantino Plaitis told The Post on Wednesday.
Plaitis, who’s run Andrew’s Diner on the south of the island since it opened in 1999, said no one from the state or city gave him notice that his business was placed in the “orange zone” this week.
Gov. Cuomo warned on Sunday that “parts of Staten Island will go into an orange zone” — but Plaitis said he only learned about the new restrictions from a Channel 2 reporter on Tuesday, and has now been forced to close his indoor dining setup. Under the restrictions, the diner is allowed to be open for outdoor dining, but doesn’t have an al fresco set up.
The family-run eatery was expecting to serve about 500 diners over the course of the holiday, “which happens to be one of the busiest days for us,” said Plaitis.
Since opening up shop with his dad and brother, “we built a loyal following,” said Plaitis. “We have a lot of customers that spend every Thanksgiving with us.”
Plaitis, 41, said he spent most of Wednesday scrambling to try to convert his reservations into take-away orders.
About 60 percent of the restaurant’s loyal customer base who were planning on eating in agreed to have their Thanksgiving feasts catered to their homes instead.
There were other logistics to figure out, including a shortage of take-out containers — and what to do with 100 spare birds.
The “fowl” situation may have been avoided had Plaitis been given some notice, he said.
“It just doesn’t seem like they’re being sensitive to the mom and pop business owners,” Plaitis said.
“It stings a bit.”
New York restaurant consultant Rick Camac said “There is no mechanism in place” for letting eateries know when they’ll be saddled with new COVID-19 regulations.
“You have to follow the media,” Camac said. “Short warning and no formal strategy, specifics, roadmap or notice.”
Plaitis also said he didn’t understand the state’s zip-code based system since, “people aren’t confined to their own zip codes.”
The northern part of Staten Island, for example moved into the “yellow zone” this week, which means indoor dining is still permitted there. Plaitis said he wishes he had a second location on the north shore, noting “It doesn’t make sense.”
“I am in the hospitality business and now I have to shut the door on people who have been loyal to me… We don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us but we want people to understand that this just isn’t fair.”
Plaitis said he’ll cook up a solution, and is looking into donating the free birds to churches or people in need — but “Had we had a little more time, we would have been able to figure out a lot more to do with those turkeys.”
All he asked for, he said, was a little “sensitivity” from officials for small businesses like his being left in the lurch.
However, “It’s my job to figure it out and we’re gonna figure it out,” Plaitis said.
Reps for the state and city didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
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