With the bar and restaurant business struggling in the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Buffalo is moving to continue a major assistance program started when the economy fell apart this spring.
The most visible part of the city assistance is allowing bar tables spread around the establishments at socially distant intervals on sidewalks or parking lots to continue. That often includes cordoning off sections of the curbside to speed up pickup of food ordered from home.
"The mayor filed an amendment to the original ordinance that was adopted to continue the program through May 1," said City Economic Development Commissioner Brendan Mehaffy Thursday. "Under this program, businesses don't pay anything to operate in the public right-of-way, again, streets and sidewalks, recognizing the incredible hardships that they are facing at this point in time."
With the start of colder weather, restaurants are trying ways to extend the season a little longer, like pole heaters to keep patrons warm. Even so, Hertel Avenue's Je Ne Sais Quoi restaurant owner Gwendalina Ingram said city approvals may be nice, but she can't afford them.
"I haven't even kept up on it because most people want the heaters and all that kind of stuff and because of finance issues, I haven't been able to purchase any. So I kind of let the patio thing go and do as much seating in here as I can," she said.
Ingram is even considering dropping inside service and switching to just takeout. She said Hertel can be a good place for a restaurant, but not all pedestrians come in and hang around for her soul food cuisine: ribs cooked just outside the building and the rest of her menu.