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Nassau campaign aims at enticing patrons to eat indoors at county eateries

With unpredictable weather and summer quickly winding down, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has announced a new campaign Tuesday called "Taste Nassau Now" that will be focused on indoor dining. Credit: Charlie Eckert

Nassau officials have launched a campaign to lure more "foodies" into county restaurants by offering the ambience of eating inside again.

“We want to let everyone know about the indoor dining options here on Long Island to restaurant-goers looking for year-round opportunities to chow down on their favorite fare,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who announced the "Taste Nassau Now" campaign Tuesday in Great Neck.

Speaking at Colbeh, a kosher Mediterranean restaurant, Curran called the initiative “a creative social media and marketing campaign designed to attract new restaurant-goers right across the border, in many cases, right here into Nassau County.”

It even has a slogan: “Dine where it’s fine in Nassau, Long Island.”

The promotion comes as eateries in Queens and New York City's four other boroughs remain banned from serving food indoors due to state-mandated restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Nassau and Suffolk have registered low-enough rates of transmission of the virus and related hospitalizations for the state to clear them to allow dining indoors at restaurants.

Nassau eateries can accommodate up to 50% of capacity, while New York City’s restaurants — including those just across county's border with Queens — have not been authorized to resume indoor dining. 

The city's ban is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court last week by the Syosset-based Mermigis Law Group on behalf of Queens-based restaurants. The lawsuit alleges the restaurants are suffering because they cannot conduct business to the extent allowed in neighboring Nassau.

It is unfair, the suit argues, that restaurants remain banned from serving food indoors despite the city's positive COVID-19 test rate being similar to those in the rest of the state. Recent test yields from the city and Nassau showed positive results of 1% or less.

City-based eateries can, however, serve customers by offering outside table service and takeout.

The litigation, which seeks $2 million in damages, names as defendants Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the office of state Attorney General Letitia James.

Curran said many Nassau restaurants have been hit hard financially during the pandemic. As many as one in three Long Island-based restaurant owners have said they are unsure if their businesses will survive, she said.

“For months, we’ve seen restrictions on indoor dining that have forced restaurants to cut back hours, some of them, unfortunately, to close, to lay off workers,” Curran said. “Our restaurants are not only eager to serve — they are ready. … And I have to say, having visited many restaurants throughout the county, that they are doing a fantastic job.”

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