With indoor dining on hold in New York City, thousands of restaurants across the city are installing outdoor dining spaces and participating in the city’s weekend-only open streets dining program. Chinatown’s Mott Street is now the site of a community-based dining area with a colorful new block-long outdoor installation created by Rockwell Group & NYC Hospitality Alliance. Chinatown was one of New York City’s hardest-hit areas since the city entered lockdown in March, and many of Chinatown’s restaurants have either permanently closed or remain temporarily closed until the virus calms down. This project, part of DineOut NYC, will help restaurants and businesses along Mott Street stay open despite the limitations of outdoor dining.
Mott Street with dim sum paintings / Courtesy of Emily Andrews for Rockwell Group
“Helping historically diverse neighborhoods like Chinatown be part of the recovery process is going to take a lot of creativity and strong community, government, and private partnerships,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Restaurants are the heart and soul of Chinatown, but they’ve been devastated for months due to the pandemic and the xenophobia that has grown with it. Now, thanks to the DineOut NYC initiative, we have an opportunity to dramatically transform and activate Mott Street through an exciting communal outdoor dining design. I am grateful for Rockwell Group, NYC Hospitality Alliance, and all the partners involved in DineOut NYC for their commitment to ensuring that immigrant-run small businesses will be part of the City’s comeback story.”
Diners along Mott Street / Courtesy of Emily Andrews for Rockwell Group
Multiple restaurants will utilize the outdoor dining facilities in this community space that runs along Mott Street between Mosco and Worth Streets. The set-up involves booths, wooden decking panels, fencing, and lots of plants, which are cost-effective, socially distanced, and adaptable. Local artist Sammi Qu-Kwok made stencils of different dim sum designs that students from the nearby Transfiguration School then painted onto panels that run alongside the dining area in bright colors. James Chan of Think! Chinatown contributed interactive tabletop designs, equipped with scannable QR codes.
Participating restaurants at the Mott Street location include Wo Hop, Ping, Hop Lee, Noodle Village, and Wok Wok. A site in Queens is currently being scouted for the next location of a community dining area. DineOut NYC has worked with the City Department of Transportation and local Business Improvement Districts to identify possible areas in the borough.
Mott Street / Courtesy of Emily Andrews for Rockwell Group
“Boasting many great restaurants, iconic Mott Street in Chinatown makes a perfect place to expand Mayor de Blasio’s Open Street model for Open Restaurants. In the last few weeks, this popular initiative has enlivened our streets and given a lifeline to a critical sector of the City’s economy,” said New York City DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, “As the City recovers, this inspired car-free use of our public spaces is showing our city’s true creative spirit.”
DineOut NYC was launched earlier this summer and has worked to come up with outdoor dining solutions for restaurants in all five boroughs. Participating restaurants include Melba’s in Harlem; Ceetay and Hudson Smokehouse in the South Bronx; Negril BK in Park Slope; Pa-Nash in Rosedale; and The Craft House and Kills Boro Brewing in Tompkinsville. These six eateries were selected to present different types of dining experiences, ultimately creating a kit of adaptable parts that they have made available free of charge on Rockwell Group’s website. Moët Hennessy has recently signed on as a Founding National Partner of DineOut NYC, and partners like Resy, and American Express have been instrumental in DineOut NYC’s success.