Dining al fresco can be a competitive pastime for New Yorkers who want to score prime sidewalk seating in the warmer months. Now, sitting outside is the only way to enjoy a restaurant or bar, a challenge for businesses that previously did not have substantial outdoor space, a familiar New York conundrum.
Learning about the open streets program that would allow restaurants to open for outdoor service, Greenpoint-based experiential design firm Pink Sparrow (24 Greenpoint Ave.), wanted to fabricate a solution. Locals may recognize their work from experiential booths at the Expo Center, but the company which relies on in-person events had all business trickle off this March, meaning they had more capacity to redefine what they do.
“We wanted to use our skills and expertise to reimagine what a post-pandemic world looks like, and really focus on starting to reopen and building community,” says Pink Sparrow’s marketing associate Maggie Balcerzak. Before Phase 2 started, Pink Sparrow communicated with the city to learn what businesses would need to open, and how they could develop compliant products.
Ideas started to roll, and Pink Sparrow created a prototype of its new parklet for 21 Greenpoint (21 Greenpoint Ave.), which is across the street from their 20,000-square-foot workshop. They’ve also outfitted Magazine Bar (130 Franklin St.) with planters and benches, the backs of which have reflectors for street traffic, to keep Magazine guests safe. They’re also cushioning businesses from needing to close.
“We wouldn’t typically have such low rates, but know the community is hurting,” Anthony Santiago, Pink Sparrow’s Managing Director, says of the program. “We’re doing everything as cheaply as possible, and not making a big profit, if anything. We want to help the community and keep out hourly [paid] carpenters on the floor. Everybody is in this together.”
Pink Sparrow has developed stylish outdoor kiosks for hand sanitizer, given that guests can’t wash their hands outdoors, and created hefty plant barriers to hide traffic. Plexiglass barriers for checkout are another option, and restaurants can also commission custom pieces.
“We’re all about speed, every summer weekend people miss is money,” Santiago says. “And we don’t want to see people taken advantage of with sub quality products.”
“We plan to see a huge increase in requests over the next week or two,” Balcerzak says. “The list of components we offer is constantly growing and evolving based on conversations we’re having with restaurant and bar owners around their different needs and wants. Essentially, just like a recipe and modifying the serving size, our plans can be adapted and scaled pretty easily. These can also be customized for any brand and adapted to fit any space.”