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‘Mott’ Haven in Queens: Car-Free Restaurant Streets to Open in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst

The city is moving to make outdoor dining permanent — like this one seen here on Mott Street last year. File photo: Emily Andrews for Rockwell Group

Fresh off the heels of transforming car-congested Mott Street into an open-air dining piazza, New York's top restaurant architect will bring the concept to two Queens neighborhoods that have suffered greatly from the economic downturn linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting this weekend, DineOut NYC — a restaurant-industry collaboration with starchitect David Rockwell — will create public dining areas at 37th Road and 75th Street next to Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, and on Woodside Avenue, between 76 and 78th streets in Elmhurst.

“The pandemic has forced us to rethink urban space, especially our sidewalks and streets," Rockwell said in a statement. "They have provided us with a way to pump energy back into these establishments, allowing them to reopen safely and to help the local economies and the women and men who make their livelihood from serving the rest of us.”

Rockwell's company was a leading force behind encouraging city officials to give curbside space and, eventually, whole roadways, to restaurateurs, who cannot yet allow customers to dine indoors. As it did on Mott Street last month, the company will install its socially distanced dining areas along the curbside space — but also provide the designs to any restaurateur who wants it. (The designs are available here.)

Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem — which is owned by Melba Wilson, the president of the NYC Hospitality Alliance — was the first restaurant to open in June with Rockwell's pro-bono designs.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said her agency was focused on bringing relief to two neighborhoods that "were among Queens communities hit hardest by COVID."

"We are thrilled to bring back more restaurants and the jobs they support in those diverse neighborhoods, which boast cuisines from all over the world,” she said in a statement. “We appreciate the ongoing creativity of DineOutNYC and thank the Rockwell Group, the Hospitality Alliance and their many sponsors for their efforts to get New York’s diverse restaurant industry back on its feet. Go out and eat well!”

Said sponsors include Moët Hennessy, Resy and American Express. The companies' logos are very discreetly affixed to the dining areas in a non-intrusive manner.

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