Changing course from business as usual to takeout only, then cooking up plans for a phased reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic has been a spicy order for many restaurants on Long Island.
Epitomizing how eateries have adapted to continue serving customers despite a menu of difficult New York State-issued mandates is Taste of Asia, an authentic region-specific Asian fusion restaurant with locations in Farmingdale, Huntington, and Sayville.
“Some people don’t want to come back to work,” says Evan Chan, the restaurants’ manager, noting he’s had to replace some staff. “They still think it’s dangerous.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order requiring restaurants to stop serving patrons other than to-go orders in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19. After the virus peaked in New York, restaurants on LI were allowed in June to begin serving guests on site again — first at fresco only, followed by indoor dining with a limited capacity. Restaurants in violation of the orders have been fined or had liquor licenses suspended.
Taste of Asia held off on reopening in June because a limited number of vendors were operating and employees were hesitant to return to work. To prepare for reopening in August, every Taste of Asia restaurant was cleaned, and employees new and old were hired.
Despite mandates that patrons wear masks before being seated, maintain social distancing, among other health restrictions, Chan has noticed an increasing number of people are comfortable with going out to eat again.
“More and more people are like, ‘I’ll go dine,’” he said.
But the restaurants are open at half capacity. Although many regular customers have returned, the limited space offered has yet to be filled.
“We probably only get like 25 percent seating,” said Chan.
While on-site dining has decreased, takeout orders have increased compared to before the pandemic.
The menu combining the essence of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian, and Vietnamese cuisine is limited. Dishes such as pan-fried pork buns, chicken satay, and tuna tataki are still offered. Despite the limited menu, “chefs with years of experience are (still) devoted to creating exquisite culinary delights that will certainly wow your palate,” the restaurant states on its website.
Some restaurants closed permanently during the pandemic. For those struggling to survive, even with the extra effort to keep patrons safe, for Taste of Asia, like other surviving restaurants, uncertainty lies ahead.
“I don’t know what to expect about future business,” said Chan.
Taste of Asia is located at 122 Secatogue Ave. in Farmingdale, 369 New York Ave. in Huntington, and 239 North Main St. in Sayville. It can be reached at toaasianfusion.com
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