It was all quiet on the Western omelet front on Sunday after North Brooklyn’s rebel restaurants retreated, hunkering down and calling in reinforcements including Borough President Markowitz in the ongoing War on Brunch.
Restaurant owners kept their outdoor tables safe behind the ramparts of their dining rooms until noon rather than risk tickets from city forces in the escalating conflict over a little-known regulation that bans eateries from serving food to sidewalk patrons on Sunday mornings.
Brunch mainstays Enid’s and Lokal — which suffered the war’s first casualty when city inspectors accused the bistro of serving outdoor diners at 9:35 am last month — kept morning customers indoors, but even though the eateries stepped back from the trenches they found a powerful ally in the brunch-loving Beep.
“Having brunch on the sidewalks of Brooklyn is, in many ways, an extension of sitting on our stoops — a community experience that allows us to people-watch, get to know our neighbors, and enjoy the weather and fresh air — especially during the summer,” said Markowitz. “It’s hard to imagine New York City without it.”
Markowitz said he hopes to bring peace to the Sunday morning dining scene, and urged legislators to rethink the largely ignored rule that has banned outdoor Sunday morning brunch for decades.
“Although the law is the law, perhaps the City Council could take a second look at this one,” he said. “I am hopeful everyone can find common ground on this issue, and figure out a way for Brooklyn brunchers and pedestrians heading to and from Sunday services to share the same sidewalk.”
And Markowitz isn’t the only Brooklynite questioning the Sunday brunch ban.
Enid’s co-owner Ashley James has already collected 300 signatures over the past two weeks from diners who can’t stand the city crackdown and a law she considers outdated.
“People want to enjoy the weather and have a bite to eat and I don’t see that our particular sidewalk is causing any kind of traffic jam,” she said. “I don’t see a problem with other sidewalks in the neighborhood either. The only thing I see is our customers enjoying themselves.”
But Community Board 1 public safety committee chairman Tom Burrows — who lead the charge against brunch rule-breakers — said illegal sidewalk noshing degrades quality of life in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, equating eateries that violate the regulation with the kinds of petty crime policed under the NYPD’s “broken windows” strategy.
“Often the acts of one have a deleterious effect on others who have not been an issue,” said Burrows, who has become the General Patton in the War on Brunch. “As long as certain operators act with impunity to operate outside the law, strict enforcement may be necessary to prevent further violations.”
Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.