Annmarie Fertoli, Associate Producer, WNYC News
Annmarie Fertoli is an Associate Producer at WNYC, working with the afternoon news team to produce All Things Considered.
A debate over early outdoor seating is brewing after several Brooklyn eateries received summonses in the past few weeks.
The reason? Operating their sidewalk cafes before noon on a Sunday.
It is against the city’s code to do so, although by most accounts the rule’s rarely enforced, or even public knowledge.
City Councilman Steve Levin wasn’t aware of it. He’s now working with fellow council member Dan Garodnick to change the code.
Levin said he hopes that’ll “go over easy” with the council.
“It doesn’t really hurt the community in any way to have people enjoying a nice waffle, or Eggs Benedict, or omelet at 11 o’clock in the morning on a Sunday, and enjoying the nice weather throughout the summer,” he said.
That seems to be the position of the owners of local restaurants, too.
Serzkan Uzel, owner of Lokal Mediterranean Bistro, wasn’t aware of the city rule and he’s been serving food outdoors before noon for several years. He’s complying now, after receiving a summons.
He said he’s never received any direct complaints, and believes many of his customers enjoy the early dining.
“Before noon….who we are serving is the families around us, who are the locals,” he said. “They go out early, before it gets crowded.”
The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs confirmed that three restaurants in Greenpoint and Williamsburg received violations in recent weeks because of this arcane rule.
A DCA spokeswoman said the department investigated and issued the violations, after receiving complaints from the local community board.
She admits the department receives dozens of complaints about sidewalk cafes across the city. “The complaints range from blocked sidewalks and too many chairs and tables to unlicensed activity,” she said, “but we almost never receive complaints about operating before noon on Sunday.”
Community Board 1 did not respond to WNYC’s request for comment.