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New Yorkers and Air Conditioning in Restaurants


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Allright, admittedly, I'm a grouch...just ask my wife, friends, family, anyone I come into contact with, whomever. But, something is happening this summer, and it doesn't make me happy. I'm trying to recall summer's past, and having a hard time - and I have a theory about this year, and trying to see whether indeed I should take umbrage, or just suck it up.

That is, it seems to me that more restaurateurs, and restaurants in our fair city in general, are either greatly lowering the amount of conditioned air they're sending out, or not sending out any a/c at all.

Last night, wife and I were looking for a place to eat (I also don't cook that much in mid-summer) - walked over to this newish wine bar on Broome St. called The Ten Bells (which, btw, looks awfully cute and fun with a nice menu and gentle prices - prediction is that it will be hard to get in here post-Labor Day) and its windows were flung open to the street - meaning, hey, I'm not eating here. Or drinking, for that matter. Then, walking on, we got to Kampuchea - guess what? Windows flung open to the street - meaning, hey, I'm not eating here. Walking on, to 'inoteca, whose windows were blessedly closed and whose A/C was on...and with a nice bottle of Rosato to add to the chill, it's where we contentedly ended up with only a 30 minute wait.

Now, you gotta understand, I've eaten in restaurants in this city which had portable heaters set up. Inside. Eaten while wearing my coat. Eaten while freezing. But, there's only so much clothing one is allowed or encouraged to take off - and trust me, I'm not going that far and no one is encouraging me. And it wouldn't help. New York in mid-summer is basically disgusting - hot, humid, smelly (on Broome St., the garbage was piled up, albeit in plastic bags, waist high)...everything you think it would be. And I love it...but I want air conditioning when I'm spending hard earned money for lunch or dinner in your restaurant.

It also seems that restaurants which still have that beloved a/c seem to be edging that thermostat higher - obviously, everyone is feeling the energy squeeze as the price of heating and cooling eat into a restaurant's profits.

So, anyone else notice this - or is it just the grouch in me? Or, maybe it doesn't bother you at all (perhaps you're from the equator? Or Mercury?) Please, tell me I'm not the only one.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Restauranteurs I know in Providence are griping about rising energy costs (among many other rising costs). Seems like "outdoor seating" and "fresh air" might be a nice way to spin "lack of air conditioning."

Do these places have units that just aren't on? Or were they designed to be open-air?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I hate air conditioning. you just gave me a short lis of places to check out. seriously. I'm tired of carrying around a cardigan around during the summer. :cool:

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Do these places have units that just aren't on? Or were they designed to be open-air?

Good question - but anyplace that opens in NYC that, on purpose, doesn't have the potential to air condition, should be closing down for the summer. Very few places in the city are truly designed to be open air. It's not like you're sitting on the docks with a cooling tropical breeze blowing in your face as you're sipping your daiquiri; besides, sitting outside, on the street, in summer, is a whole other topic.

But, even the places using their a/c seem to have pushed their thermostats up to around 80. And I just don't like having dinner while sweating, I guess. Unless I'm cooking over a barbecue.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm in favor of chilled air around me at all times during summer.

I haven't encountered the problem in NYC yet, but I just got back from 2 weeks in Miami, during which time I had to ask several places to make it cooler. I realize it's the energy costs, but I wanna dine in a coooool place too! I'm with you.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I was on the Lower East Side yesterday late afternoon when it was, I believe, 91 degrees and very sunny. I stopped in at Kampuchea and Spitzer's Corner. I didn't take careful notice, but I think both places (which are designed with large window-doors that open on to the street) had their windows open and also had the A/C running. I must have been imagining things but I thought I saw the same arrangement in play at 'inoteca. Or maybe there were some tables outside and a very wide open door in the front-middle. I guess this is why eyewitness testimony is so unreliable.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yah I've noticed this too. Most places seem to use the minimum amount AC necessary, and perhaps not at all if they can get away with it. Sounds like some places are getting overzealous with it.

On the other end of the financial fortunes spectrum, I guess, is places with wasteful energy practices, like doors open with AC ON - there was even a city council bill proposed to deal with that:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html...756C0A9619C8B63

There is a general campaign that Con Ed is waging on my fronts to get certain neighborhoods to actually LOWER their power usage - counterintuitive, I know. You'd think they make more money on our already stupidly high bills. But their grid is at capacity, and it's not going to grow enough to handle all the new NYC residents pouring in. For instance, they've offered to replace all my lightbulbs in my apt. with compact flourescents.

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I'm with you on this one. No air conditioning means I don't go near the place, and yes, the open window stuff has become more prevalent. (Eating outside, even in nice weather, grosses me out. Who needs those exhaust fumes? It's not as if NY sidewalks are so wide that we're nowhere near the traffic. We're right on top of it. Yuk.) And restaurants that have their AC on AND keep their windows open should be shot!

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AC in NYC restaurants in summer is a MUST or bye bye. It's just too damn humid and sticky to enjoy a meal. And eating outside is good only on a side street with little traffic and no piles of garbage to enhance the view (ie, quite rare). And only if it's really nice outside, which precludes most of July and August.

This isn't Paris, with wide sidewalks and (relatively) little traffic. Here, we're on top of the taxis, practically counting the change while eating our meals. Sad to say, as I do love being outside when it's not too humid, but our fair city was never designed with the same esplanades as Paris.

It will be interesting how the new configuration on Broadway works out. I for one would not enjoy sitting mere feet from the cars, buses and trucks rambling down the Great White Way.

Cheers! :cool:

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I was on the Lower East Side yesterday late afternoon when it was, I believe, 91 degrees and very sunny. I stopped in at Kampuchea and Spitzer's Corner. I didn't take careful notice, but I think both places (which are designed with large window-doors that open on to the street) had their windows open and also had the A/C running. I must have been imagining things but I thought I saw the same arrangement in play at 'inoteca. Or maybe there were some tables outside and a very wide open door in the front-middle. I guess this is why eyewitness testimony is so unreliable.

'inoteca is usually somewhat open to the street through early afternoon - then, in weather like we're having, the windows get shut sometime after midday...but the tables stay outside and available.

Kampuchea was hot as hell; I did go inside to see if they were doing the a/c and open widows thing - if they were, the open windows were winning...and there weren't many diners to generate body heat, that's for sure.

Spitzer's also loves the windows to be flung open to the street - didn't know they were doing the PC Richard's trick (i.e. open doors with 60 degree air blasting into the street), a longtime staple of NYC summers.

Luckylies is picking up pointers for sweater-less dining all over :smile: .

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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The Kampuchea A/C must have given up the ghost some time between when I was in and when you were in. Pretty much my only clear memory of yesterday is that Kampuchea was an oasis of cool at around opening time.

I'd also like to go on record as saying that, on account of my ample bulk, I have a special love of air conditioning. I love it so much. I especially enjoy traveling to places like Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas -- cities that were essentially uninhabitable before the widespread adoption of air conditioning -- because they really know how to air condition. In a place like New York City, which is habitable without air conditioning for most of the year, we're A/C amateurs.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd also like to go on record as saying that, on account of my ample bulk, I have a special love of air conditioning. I love it so much. I especially enjoy traveling to places like Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas -- cities that were essentially uninhabitable before the widespread adoption of air conditioning -- because they really know how to air condition. In a place like New York City, which is habitable without air conditioning for most of the year, we're A/C amateurs.

This is so very true!! As I mentioned upthread, I just came back from a stay in Miami, and while there are some small restaurants economizing, hotels like the one I stayed at (The Diplomat) had their enormous, gigantic lobbies the temperature of meat lockers - so much cold air that when the doormen would pull the doors open for people coming or going (basically every 3 seconds), if you were outside and approaching the hotel, the blast of ice-cold inviting air would hit you from 12 feet away. Just how I like it too! And I've experienced this in the places you mention as well. I don't know how they do it, but I love it.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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