When Meg Radice and Audrey Jongens recently posted a video on TikTok about a meal they had enjoyed at Kyma in the Flatiron District, they received a shocking, scorn-filled message in response.
“Indoor dining? You’ll regret this when you’re dying on a ventilator.”
Since the ban on indoor dining in NYC was lifted on Friday, the gal pals have frequented the city’s beloved — and beleaguered — restaurants at least five times. They also continue to post about their dining adventures under the handle @TheVIPList, despite finger-wagging, death threats and even accusations of killing their grandparents. (Both recently lost a grandparent to non-COVID-related causes.)
“We get hate all the time for going out to eat,” Radice, 22, told The Post.
“People try to shame us, but it’s so insane to shame people who want to support businesses that have been dying. It’s allowed, we’re being safe, we’re spread apart.”
The tut-tutters are particularly vocal on social media, where the we-know-better-than-you brigade are out in full force.
Popular Instagram account @thesussmans, for instance, recently seethed at diners returning to indoor restaurants: “INDOOR DINING IS DANGEROUS AND SELFISH,” read a Jan. 31 post to almost 2,500 likes. “Taking off your mask indoors for long periods of time while drinking, eating and having conversation can put you, other guests and staff in a susceptible position.”
Instead, NYC-based cookbook authors Max and Eli Sussman advised “ordering tons of takeout and tipping with cash like a maniac,” noting that 35 percent of the total amount was appropriate.
Too bad the deep-pocketed New Yorkers who can afford such largesse have largely fled the city. In the meantime, a new study conducted by the NYC Hospitality Alliance released Tuesday revealed that more than 90 percent of restaurant owners couldn’t make rent in December.
The return of limited indoor dining offers a modest lifeline — and restaurateurs bristle at the criticism they’re getting for taking it.
“We’re being selfish? This is our livelihood — this is our entire life, seven days a week,” said Anisa Moloney-Iuliano, who co-owns five restaurants, including Gnoccheria and Ampia Rooftop, in NYC.
All of her restaurants have taken massive financial hits, and she’s had to invest tens of thousands of dollars in air filters.
That said, she and her staff take no relish in playing hall monitor to blasé customers.
“Please respect the protocols,” she said.
To combat the spread of COVID, city regulations outline clear precautions including seating at 25 percent capacity, contact tracing, temperature checks, spaced-out tables, masks when not seated, and staff masked at all times. On Wednesday, the city announced a revised set of guidelines, which include limiting parties to four people.
Despite the risk of airborne infection in enclosed spaces, transmission rates from restaurants and bars accounted for just 1.4 percent of statewide cases, according to limited contact tracing data released by Gov. Cuomo in December.
After months of not stepping foot inside a restaurant, William McLarnon, a former model turned real-estate agent with Corcoran, was excited to spend Valentine’s Day at the Meatpacking District supper club Noir with his girlfriend, Julia Tchen.
With temperature checks, social distancing and mask requirements being implemented, the 31-year-old said he had no qualms about buoying business.
“They’ve been out of work for a while and it’s good to help,” said McLarnon, who lives in Midtown West.
“People have to live their lives,” he added. “There’s risk in everything.”
And, after months of eating at home, he relished a return to “a new semi-normal” as he nibbled on his imported Japanese wagyu steak with edible 24-k gold leaf.
“You’re not going to get that exotic dish from takeout,” he said.
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