Catering business owners across Long Island stood together in Hauppauge on Friday with one simple message to Albany:
Let catering halls expand capacity from 50 people to 50 percent.
“Having 50% capacity is not profitable for us,” said Gennaro Tallarico, manager of Fox Hollow in Woodbury. “But what 50% capacity will allow us to do is keep our head above water, it will keep us alive until next year, bring our people back to work, and also may give us revenue to pay taxes.”
The state’s 50-person cap on catering halls — put into effect by a Gov. Cuomo executive order— applies regardless of the hall’s size.
Restaurants, however, have been allowed to have 50 percent capacity for indoor dining since late June on Long Island. Since then, catering halls have not been giving any indication on when more patrons can come into their facilities.
The rally, organized by Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, occurred days after Baiting Hollow’s Giorgio’s Catering had its liquor license suspended due to “egregious violations of pandemic related executive orders.” The wedding venue held hosted 95 people at a wedding reception.
“We’re asking the governor to allow the industry to reopen at a sustainable level,” said Giglio, “With social distancing and precautions, such as temperature checks, and contact information for guest follow-ups, if need be.”
Giglio went on to talk about the rippling effect of not having the catering halls open at a “sustainable level” with ancillary businesses such as event photography and videography, hotels, bakeries, DJs, florists, all suffering.
“Catering venues are at the heart of our industry,” said John Salkowsky, owner of photography and videography company Silverfox Studios. “As they flow, we flow. This is now desperate times.”
The catering business owners believe it will be safer to increase capacity because people are having large at-home weddings with little to no social distancing precautions.
“You are not stopping these parties by shutting us down,” said Tallarico.
“Events are going out at people’s homes. We can safely operate with 50 percent. We have the training and we have the people.”
We reached out to the governor’s office for comment. Check back for updates.
Scroll down for some of the photos from the rally.