War on Brunch treaty would allow outdoor Sunday dining — but not drinking

War on brunch: W’burg group fights to stop Sunday morning sidewalk dining
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A treaty to end the War on Brunch is on the table — but Sunday morning diners will need to wait until noon before they order mimosas.

Councilmen Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) and Dan Garodnick (D–Manhattan) introduced a much-anticipated bill on Wednesday to allow outdoor dining on Sundays starting at 10 am in an attempt to bring peace to North Brooklyn after community leaders and city inspectors launched a 21-day offensive against scofflaw restaurants.

The new bill would change city laws to let restaurants open their sidewalk cafes before noon during the week’s brunch apex — but it would have no impact on a state law that prohibits restaurants from serving alcohol before noon on Sundays.

Levin says his proposed law will help feed Brooklynites when they need it most.

“The law that exists now does not reflect the reality that folks eat brunch before noon on Sundays,” said Levin. “These businesses have sidewalk cafe permits. They pay for those permits and should be allowed to serve their customers on beautiful Brooklyn mornings. The fact is that people should eat when they are hungry.”

The proposal comes after city inspectors slapped several Greenpoint restaurants with summonses for serving food and alcohol on their sidewalks on Sunday mornings last month after Community Board 1 urged the Department of Consumer Affairs to enforce the obscure city provision.

The ticketing stirred outrage among the neighborhood’s brunching proletariat, who signed petitions to repeal the law and urged public officials to support their right to sit outside and enjoy Huevos Rancheros, Belgian waffles, and French toast before noon.

Even though alcohol is a big part of brunch for many restaurants, some of the eateries that suffered losses during the War on Brunch say they want to serve customers outdoors starting at 10 am on Sundays.

“That sounds better than noon!” said Lokal Bistro co-owner Serkan Uzel, who paid a $665 fine last week for setting tables outdoors at 9:35 am on a Sunday. “We will definitely see an increase because we’re going to be able to use our sidewalk café for two more hours for early brunchers.”

It’s unclear why the current law bars outdoor dining on Sunday, but according to city lore, the provision was intended to keep the sidewalks clear for church-goers heading to their houses of worship.

Council sources said Levin and Garodnick decided on the 10 am starting time because it was a “reasonable compromise,” claiming barely anyone eat Sunday brunch at 8 am in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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