Bay Ridge restaurant owner installs air purification tech to disinfect against COVID

air purification
Schnitzel Haus is located on Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue between 73rd and 74th streets.
Schnitzel Haus

A Bay Ridge restaurant owner is spreading the word of his newly-installed air purification system, which he says will make dining indoors significantly safer amid COVID-19 — and help bring the city’s restaurant industry back in the process. 

“This protects our clients and, if this was just more widely used, we’re convinced that we can all safely go back to full operation,” said Fred Urban, the owner of Schnitzel Haus. “The restaurant industry in New York, the greatest industry in the greatest city, is on life support. This can make all the difference.”

The Fifth Avenue eatery’s filter technology — which employs a so-called photocatalytic oxidation method — targets “both airborne and surface contaminants, attaching to them and attacking them,” according to the filter’s manufacturer. 

Puradigm‘s ultraviolet treatment technology — which one University of Florida College of Medicine study found could kill 97.7 percent of the virus in one hour — is marketed to be “more effective than HEPA filters,” which may let some of the smallest COVID-19 particles slip by. 

“After just a couple of days in the place, I can say the air is fresher, feels cleaner, and none of us has gotten sick,” Urban wrote in a letter to his fellow restaurateurs. “Interestingly, one of our staff who always suffers from allergies says he can only breathe clearly when he’s at work!”

Urban hopes to enlist other restaurant owners to install the purification system inside their establishments, which he believes could help safely bring traffic back to the neighborhood’s restaurants — and prevent another shutdown.

“We want to share it with our fellow businesses. Sure, we compete for clients with other restaurants but we share customers with both them and every other business,” Urban wrote. “The bottom line is that we ALL do better when we ALL thrive. What we don’t want is to be shut down for being another ‘hot spot.’”

Though he has received an outpouring of support from the community through over $26,000 in donations on GoFundMe, the iconic restaurant still faces financial hardship from the back rent accrued during the months-long shut down in March, making it more important than ever for local restaurants to work together, Urban said.

Collectively installing preventative measures like his filtration system would help the area get through the winter months, when outdoor dining is less plausible, according the restaurateur, who plans to host a meeting with local businesses and the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District in the near future to showcase the air purification technology, which he hopes will convince state regulators that full-capacity indoor dining is possible. 

“With this technology, there is no reason we have to stay at 25 percent,” Urban said. “Let’s get together behind a solution… because no one else has!”