QUEENS, N.Y. – Vishal Patel never envisioned transforming his Hot Peppers Mexican restaurant into an all takeout operation. He had to close his dining room in March because of COVID-19 and still hasn’t reopened it, even when the state and city allowed a partial return to indoor dining last month. Nor has he set up tables for outside dining.
Instead, Hot Peppers only provides food to-go.
“It was pretty difficult in terms of turning into a different kind of concept from what we had,” Patel said.
Patel says city guidelines change so much, he didn’t think it was worth buying the equipment to make outdoor or indoor dining work.
”When it comes to winter we didn’t know what the future was going to look like, for example the outdoor dining. People invested a lot of money on safety precautions and now in high zip codes they’re closing that down because