Local Restaurant Struggles to Keep Up With New York City’s Ever-Changing Rules During Reopening

Tags: Currents Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY, Business, Coronavirus, Crux, Faith, Family, Queens, NY, Small Buisness

By Jessica Easthope

Maria Pranzo is the manager of Gino’s on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The Italian restaurant has been open for 56 years. It’s her family’s business.

“It’s always been an uncertain business, but now it’s more uncertain than ever,” she explained. “Every day it’s like you’re running a new business.”

Maria helps run the restaurant with her brother, Anthony. But since the pandemic it’s been a far cry from what it used to be. On average, before COVID-19, the restaurant served more than 600 people a day.

“Now how many? Maybe if we do 150 a day it’s a lot, we’re at like a fifth of our business,” said Maria.

Like many other restaurants across the city, Gino’s built an outdoor dining space in front of the restaurant in compliance with the city’s guidelines, or so they thought.

“On Sunday somebody came and said we needed to have an 18 inch railing between the street and the seating,” Maria said of their outdoor deck.

They hoped the space would be a blessing, but with the city’s ever-changing regulations, it’s been more like a curse.

“For them to change the guidelines after the game started it’s just not fair, we got it done but a lot of places won’t get it done and they’ll face fines and have their privileges revoked,” Maria said.

The United Nations estimates businesses like Gino’s, with less than 250 workers, make up two-thirds of employment worldwide. Maria says she’s desperate to get her employees back to work.

“We were prepared to bring back more people when we were going to do the 50 percent indoor, and then I had to say, ‘Sorry, you can’t come back,’” she told Currents NEws.

Maria and her family’s faith has kept hope alive. She says despite their struggles, she feels God is on her side.

“Yesterday it was supposed to rain all night and I prayed, ‘Please dear God, let it hold out.’ And the rain did hold out,” she said. “I just feel like I do rely on my faith.”

For now, Gino’s is in complete compliance with city guidelines. Maria says she’s hoping the rules don’t change anymore, and businesses can get back to serving the community.