July 2, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A stretch of Bell Boulevard will close and be converted into an outdoor dining corridor on Friday nights and weekends, beginning July 4, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Paul Vallone announced today.
The Bayside street will be closed to car traffic and filled with tables and chairs for patrons of eateries along the strip. The street closure is part of the citywide “Open Streets: Restaurants” initiative to help restaurants bounce back from the months-long coronavirus shutdown.
Bell Boulevard, between 39th Avenue and 41st Avenue; and 41st Avenue, between Bell Boulevard and 214th Place will be fully closed to traffic and opened to restaurant use on Friday evenings.
The streets will be closed to traffic from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays as well.
The exact Friday hours are still being finalized.
An emergency lane down the center of the roadways will remain clear to allow emergency vehicles to pass through.
The Bayside BID spearheaded the initiative along Bell Boulevard in partnership with the city. The corridor is one of the first in the citywide program announced today and the first and only announced thus far in Queens.
“Between our customers and our restaurant owners, it’s hard to tell who’s happier!” said Christine Silletti, executive director of the Bayside Village BID.
More streets and corridors will be added to the “Open Streets: Restaurants” program in the coming days.
The outdoor seating will allow restaurant customers to practice safe social distancing while enjoying a meal out. Increasing research also shows COVID-19 is less likely to transmit between people in open air.
Vallone said he was thrilled to share the news that Bell Boulevard was selected.
He said the initiative “gives restaurant owners the power to expand their operations on the weekends and offer more diners food service in the open air, giving New Yorkers a safe way to enjoy a meal out while supporting their favorite local eateries.”
The expanded outdoor seating program will run through Labor Day.
In these difficult economic times dealing with COVID-19, it is especially important to patronize your favorite restaurants and honor the employees who make them a success. There are several ways to say thank you. Let your server(s), cooks and owners know how much you appreciate the excellent food and service.
My wife and I try to tip 20 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, round up to the next dollar. Why not leave a 25% tip to honor your return of eating out. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, don’t forget to leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. Trust us, it is appreciated.
Remember the people who work at your favorite restaurant are our neighbors. They work long hours for little pay and count on tips, which make up a significant portion of their income. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either. Your purchases keep our neighbors employed and the local economy growing.
As a show of appreciation, drop off a box of candy, cookies or some other treat for your favorite waiter or restaurant staff to celebrate their reopening.