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More than 450 restaurant owners suing New York City and state over indoor dining restrictions got another high-profile name added to the $2 billion lawsuit.
Joe Germanotta, owner of Joanne Trattoria on the Upper West Side, joined a reported 456 restaurant owners suing Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over an ongoing ban on indoor dining due to the coronavirus pandemic. Germanotta is the father of pop superstar and actress Lady Gaga.
(Source: PIX 11 News)
“We’re tough people. We manage our own risk,” Germanotta told PIX 11 News, as the class-action lawsuit was filed against the state and city over the ban on dining inside the city’s eateries despite the rest of the state allowing indoor dining at half capacity since late June.
“When it rains we gotta close. Once it starts getting cold, the place will be empty,” he added, noting that he is discouraged by the closures of many other restaurants that have not been able to stay afloat amid months of shutdowns due to COVID-19 which ravaged the city in its early stages leaving more than 32,000 dead.
“It’s so sad, because I’m watching some of my dear friends that own places, shut down,” Germanotta said.
“Something has to be done. They’re not listening, they’re not hearing, they’re just not being realistic,” he said, blasting lawmakers who continue to make excuses and point fingers.
“They gotta put themselves in our shoes — they’re still getting a paycheck, these people are suffering,” he added.
“Without the indoor dining I am just about breaking even, which is fine, it’s a family run business but it is going to be tight, especially when winter hits,” he said. “The whole situation affects the entire supply chain. It will affect the governor and the city and the tax base. We have taken the precautions. I was ready on July 6.”
In a press conference last week, Cuomo blamed de Blasio for the delay in lifting restrictions and was slammed for suggesting a 4,000-person NYPD force be used to enforce social distancing. The mayor, meanwhile, who has worked to defund $1 billion from the NYPD budget and removed about 600 plain-clothes anti-crime officers, said it is a question of health risk.
“I want to see how we can help them, but it has to be health and safety first,” de Blasio, who admitted last month that he doesn’t have a plan to resume indoor dining, said.
Republican New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich slammed the Democrat leaders.
“On this side of the border, in the Borough of Queens and throughout the five boroughs, what does the mayor and the governor say? ‘You eat in the street.’,” he said.
“Tell us why, right now, I can go have a meal anywhere outside the City of New York indoors at limited capacity, but I can’t do it here in the city, the five boroughs,” Democratic City Councilman Justin Brannan added.
Attorney James Mermigis, who is representing the restaurant owners in the lawsuit seeking over $2 billion in damages, called out the leaders as well.
“Not one public health official from the city has entered any of these restaurants to deem them dangerous,” he said.
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Germanotta noted the urgency as fall weather will soon turn to the cold winter where it will be impossible to maintain any outdoor seating.
“Once the weather gets cold, we’re pretty much out of business,” he told “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.
(Source: Fox News)
“We’re able to have about 20 seats out front now. I’ve got a patio with a couple of seats on the back, but without the indoor dining, I’m just about breaking even,” he said, adding, “it’s going to be tight especially when the winter hits.”
“If they’re not going to give us the indoor dining, we’ve got to go out and get it ourselves and that’s the bottom line,” Mermigis told Fox News in the same interview. “We have to force them to show us the science.”
Earlier this year, Germanotta refused to pay the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority for space he was renting for his restaurant in Grand Central Terminal. He cited a problem with homeless people in the terminal as well as other issues in his refusal to pay thousands in rent back in February before the pandemic caused the city to essentially shut down.
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