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Long Island restaurants pivoting to takeout amid new restrictions 

Grilled octopus with baby arugula and fingerling potatoes

Grilled octopus with baby arugula and fingerling potatoes is still on the menu at LB Social in Long Beach— but you'll have to get it to go.   Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

I’ll take that to go.

This common request has now turned into the only option at restaurants on Long Island and throughout the entire metropolitan region since the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced, on Monday morning, that they are shutting down all bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery service. The new rule takes effect at 8 p.m. Monday.

Over the weekend, many Long Island restaurants wrestled with maintaining the strictest sanitation for dine-in customers while expanding their takeout business while also wondering whether or not they should even be open. Now, one big decision has been made for them.

Matt Hisiger, the chef-owner of LB Social in Long Beach, said that he was not surprised. “As food-service professionals, it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety of the public. I think this was the right thing to do.”

Hisiger had already started making the shift away from dining in. “We’ve always done takeout,” he said, “but until last Wednesday, never delivery.” The restaurant began delivering to Long Beach and Lido Beach, added the adjacent communities of Point Lookout and Atlantic Beach and now is going as far north as Oceanside.

He corralled local college students, home from school, to make the deliveries. He said he was paying them a regular hourly wage plus reimbursing them for gas.

From only serving dinner from 4 to 10 p.m., he has shifted delivery hours, now from noon to 8 p.m. “My feeling is that with kids at home and people working from home, folks need food all day.”

Hisiger is not using GrubHub or DoorDash or UberEats. “I’ve never used third-party delivery services,” he said. “I want to know everyone who is handling my food.” Starting Tuesday, every employee who shows up to work will have his or her temperature taken with a single-use thermometer before entering the kitchen.

Of course customers are welcome to come pick up the food themselves, and someone from the restaurant will deliver it from restaurant to car.

Over the weekend, Hisiger found that customers were ordering as if they were dining in — “We had a group of regular customer ordering in a three-course meal for six” — but he is working on some new items that are “more portable.”

For now, Hisiger is maintaining a positive attitude. “I’m a glass-half-full sort of guy,” he said. “Was it Gloria Gaynor who sang ‘I will Survive’? Well, I’m not going to crumble or lay down and die.”

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