Red Tape

Bloomberg Vows to Speed Up Restaurant Openings by Months

Photo: Getty Images

We’ve just received word that the opening of Chris Santos’s still unnamed restaurant around the corner from Stanton Social on Essex Street, which was due to open early this year, has been delayed. Not a surprise, but here’s good news for others trying to get a restaurant off the ground. During his State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he has created a new task force, called the New Business Acceleration Team, to help businesses like the South Slope’s Black Horse Pub (“a friendly neighborhood place,” according to Mayor Mike) cut through the red tape of setting up shop (the Pub was part of a pilot program that sped up its opening by three months).

First, Bloomberg outlined the all-too-typical woes that owners Brian McNally (no, not Keith’s brother of Indochine fame) and Iain Lake faced when opening: “The utilities couldn’t be turned on until the Fire Department inspection. The Department of Buildings couldn’t issue a certificate of occupancy until Environmental Protection did its review. And so on and so on. It’s enough to drive a new business owner to look for the nearest pub!” Indeed. Bloomberg went on to outline, in albeit vague terms, his plan to speed up the nightmarish process. Here’s the text of the speech.

In 2010, we’re going to take this promising initiative citywide, with a streamlined inspection process that will cut red tape for most new restaurants. And about 4,000 open every year! To help them, we’ll deploy a ‘New Business Acceleration Team’ to help small business owners cut months off their waiting times.

To make it crystal clear that this is a top priority, this morning I met with the ten commissioners whose agencies interact with small businesses: Small Business Services, Buildings, Fire, Finance, Information Technology, Transportation, Sanitation, Consumer Affairs, Health, Environmental Protection, and even Criminal Justice! I directed all of the commissioners to work hand-in-glove to begin cutting through the bureaucracy and improving customer service.

Bloomberg also said he’d set up a website clarifying city permits and regulations. “Together,” he said, “these two steps will help more places like the Black Horse Pub start creating jobs and serving New Yorkers more of the world’s most diverse and delicious meals. Hopefully low in salt with a published calorie count!” Wait a minute, pubs are going to have to start cutting out salt and publishing their calorie counts, too? Oh well — with the liquor-license application process also being streamlined, it’s good news for aspiring restaurateurs today.

2010 State of the City Speech Text [Scribd]

Bloomberg Vows to Speed Up Restaurant Openings by Months