The sidewalk cafe season along Second Avenue on the Upper East Side is a bust, thanks to the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway project.
According to city figures, 22 restaurants have had their outdoor eatery licenses revoked or temporarily suspended because of the construction, frustrating local residents and stripping businesses of thousands of dollars in additional income.
“We call it a war zone. It’s just awful to look at,” said Nick Panagakos, a supervisor at Cinema Cafe, which had to shut down its 44 outdoor tables and cut staff.
MTA officials said they are working with individual businesses to keep their cafe licenses intact right up until the point that digging starts in the area. Owners will not have to reapply for a license once the work ends.
“We’re doing what we can to allow them to sustain that business,” said Linda Kleinbaum, MTA Deputy Director of Administration.
The stretch of Second Avenue between 96th and 63rd streets had 26 permits for outdoor cafes before the construction, MTA officials said Monday during a City Council hearing. Closed cafes include:
- Jackson Hole Burger, where owners said they used to take in several thousand dollars on busy nights.
- Delizia 92, which spent $100,000 on an enclosed sidewalk area that had to be abandoned, according to its proprietors.
“It’s painful for everyone in the area,” said Michele Birnbaum, a local resident for 38 years.
MacCarthur Properties, a developer that owns Cinema Cafe and Patsy’s Restaurant along Second Avenue, filed suit against the MTA in November for the lost revenue. The case is still in litigation in Manhattan Supreme Court.