When Stephen Werther, an owner and the chef of the West Village restaurant and market Suprema Provisions , opened his business for outdoor dining in the summer of 2020, he noticed people aggressively panhandling his customers. He hired security guards, but concluded after a couple of months that the strategy wasn't working. Instead, he found a better solution. "We make them food," Mr. Werther said. He lets the panhandlers order whatever they want, and each one has developed a go-to: a hamburger, pasta Bolognese, spaghetti pomodoro. "It's created more of a community relationship with homeless people and the panhandlers, rather than an adversarial one," he said. Economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has worsened already increasing levels of homelessness across the country. And in New York City, where nearly 12,000 restaurants have been approved to offer outdoor dining, reports of diners being approached for money have become more widespread. Incidents involving people believed to be homeless and restaurants aren't categorized and tracked as such by the New York Police Department. But many restaurant owners, their employees and homeless-advocacy organizations said in interviews that such disputes have increased as more people have become homeless and thousands of restaurants have expanded… Read full this story
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