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A New York City steakhouse got seared on social media Monday over its outdoor dining setup, which nearly blocked the sidewalk.
But the Midtown Manhattan restaurant maintained it believed it was following coronavirus rules, and began making changes when questioned by The Post.
Benjamin Prime Steakhouse had built a tent that swallowed up the sidewalk outside the eatery on East 40th Street between Madison and Park Avenues — creating a covered passage that forced people to walk through the structure to get by.
A sign on the tent with an arrow even instructed pedestrians to enter through a door-sized opening to get to the other side, with no room to walk around, other than the roadway.
Any sidewalk seating must “leave an 8′ clear path for pedestrians,” according to city guidelines. Restaurants are allowed to use tents — as long as they don’t fully enclose the seating area “or obstruct clear paths.”
Images of the enclosure sparked outrage on Twitter when they were posted by a deputy editor at The New York Times earlier on Monday with the caption “I’m sorry, this is legal?!”
“It’s your choice: get hit by an Amazon delivery truck in the street, or get COVID in here,” one person commented.
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New Yorkers who spotted the tent later in the day were also steamed.
“That’s garbage! You can’t have a walkway here that’s closed,” passerby Leo Dacres said.
Emily Cole, 25, who works nearby, called the setup “ridiculous,” and blasted the city for not enforcing the rules.
“I think it’s ridiculous that they’ll go and automatically close schools down, but they won’t shut this stuff down, where it’s essentially a structure,” she said.
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The glamping-like tent was outfitted with four tables, spaced six feet apart, as well as space heaters and ceiling fans — and a check-in desk at the entrance.
A manager at the restaurant, who gave his name as Alex B., said the eatery wasn’t aware that it was stepping over the line, and that no one from the city had told them so, either.
“We are not trying to risk anything, we are trying to make a living,” he said.
Shortly after, the staff took down part of the tarp so as to extend the tent’s opening. But it wasn’t clear if that would be enough of a fix.
“We don’t do anything to harm anything,” the manager added. “All I want to do is comply with rules and regulations.”
“We don’t do anything to harm anything,” said a manager. “All I want to do is comply with rules and regulations.”
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A City Hall spokesman said the restaurant should expect a visit from inspectors on Monday evening.
“We’ll make sure they’re complying with the regulations we’ve set out to keep pedestrians, diners, and staff safe,” said spokesman Mitch Schwartz.
This article originally appeared in The New York Post.
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