What The Hell Is Going On With Sidewalk Brunch?


  • Photo via Stefano Giovannini/Brooklyn Paper

Around this time last year, we all had a little bit of a scare about a so-called War on Brunch, in which older, presumably pious Greenpoint residents started fussing about sidewalk brunch seating literally blocking their routes to church on Sunday mornings. Tame and sort of silly as far as these things go, except that they actually did have the law on their side, thanks to a decades-old (and mostly ignored) regulation barring restaurants from serving outdoors anytime before noon on Sunday mornings. Now that it’s nice again, this problem is back! And so far, it’s resulted in two things.

The first, unfortunately, was a crackdown on seventeen different bars and restaurants (all of them in Manhattan, according to the Post‘s report), requiring “panicked” restaurant owners to either prove that they’re operating on private property, or hold off their outdoor brunch service entirely until noon, a pretty significant hit to profits.

The second, way better thing going on here is a serious attempt to repeal this law, mostly thanks to Williamsburg councilman Stephen Levin. In a bill that’s going to a city council vote on June 13th, Levin has proposed to roll back old regulations and allow Sunday outdoor brunches to start as early as 10am. He also released a doozy of a statement:

“The time is now for the war on brunch to end. Meals have been lost on both sides and the uneaten stack of pancakes continues to grow. I am certain this bill will go over-easy with New Yorkers hungry for common-sense brunch regulations and hopeful that the bill will move through committee and be passed by the full Council before more people have to sacrifice brunch for lunch.”

Seems like a real missed opportunity for political jokes about waffling and the bill’s passage being a lox and aaaah we could play this game all day, but anyway, otherwise a good call on Levin’s part. I guess we have to see how the vote turns out, but it seems like brunch is going to be just fine.

Update: Levin’s spokesperson told us this morning that the bill is actually still in the midst of committee hearings, and needs approval before going to an official vote. Maybe brunch won’t be just fine??! Well, brunch will probably still be fine.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


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