A New York State Supreme Court judge has granted a temporary win for 94 bars and restaurants — most of which are in Western New York, in the Buffalo, N.Y. area — that sued the state over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19-mandated 11 p.m. curfew for New York foodservice establishments. Acting Supreme Court Judge Timothy Walker granted a preliminary injunction to the businesses involved in a ruling Saturday night, allowing them to stay open until 4 a.m.
Originally, the state curfew for restaurants and bars was 10 p.m., but that was extended another hour on Feb. 14, the same day that indoor dining reopened in New York.
The temporary restraining order allows the parties involved to operate their businesses according to COVID-19 emergency guidelines, without the mandated curfew in place.
“The court finds both that the restaurant and bar petitioners have sufficiently demonstrated irreparable harm in the absence of the granting of a preliminary injunction, and that the equities tip in their favor,” Judge Walker said in Saturday’s ruling. “While economic loss that is compensable by money damages does not, generally, constitute irreparable harm, loss of business relationships, goodwill, and market share does.”
The list of 94 restaurants and bars involved in the lawsuit include the Buffalo Grill n Ale House in Cheektowaga, the Amherst Pizza and Ale House in Getzville, the Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar in Buffalo, and MPR Restaurants group in Amherst.
Hogan-Willig, the law firm representing those establishments argued in the lawsuit that the curfew was not supported by science.
"It’s probably the last-ditch opportunity for our clients to be able to get life breathed back into them,” Steve Cohen, an attorney with law firm Hogan-Willig told Fox News. “They were all hanging by a thread and Judge Walker gave them a lifeline."
This is the latest case in a series of lawsuits popping up around the country from restaurants that have been negatively impacted by dining room restrictions and closures. In January, Eerie County, New York courts issued a temporary ruling allowing restaurants in the “orange zone” to operate under “Yellow Zone” restrictions after several Erie County restaurants sued New York state over indoor dining closures.
In November, the California Restaurant Association sued Los Angeles County officials over the outdoor dining ban. Though now lifted, the case is still making its way through the California court system, according to the Los Angeles Times. Similar lawsuits were filed in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Michigan and Oregon.
Restaurant Hospitality has reached out to Cuomo’s office for comment.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi