Bronx restaurant the 1st in NYC to offer onsite vaccinations

Boca Restaurant & Lounge, on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, will kick-off a three-day onsite free vaccine campaign for its patrons.
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With a citywide mandate looming, one Bronx restaurant will take the unusual step today of being the first restaurant in New York City to vaccinate its patrons.

Boca Restaurant & Lounge, located at 2458 Webster Ave., will conduct on-site COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday, ahead of a city-imposed mandatory deadline of Aug. 16 for people who want to participate in indoor activities. The restaurant will partner in the venture with NYC Health + Hospital and the NYC Test and Trace Corps, part of the city’s public initiative to combat the COVID virus.

“We partnered with NYC Health & Hospitals to help keep our communities safe and avoid unnecessary closures for all restaurants in the city,” said Emmanuel Carela, owner of Boca Restaurant.

The restaurant will also offer to vaccinate members of the community.

Vaccinations will run through Thursday, from 2 p.m.-8 p.m. No appointments are necessary but any form of identification and documentation of vaccine eligibility are required.

“We commend Boca Restaurant for their efforts to assist the city with their vaccination efforts,” said Jeffrey Garcia, president of the New York State Latino Restaurant Bar and Lounge Association. “If we don’t get ahead of this virus, the new Covid-19 Delta variant will result in the complete closure of the NYC restaurant industry … We are proud to be part of this initiative.”

The move within the restaurant industry comes on the heels of Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Aug. 2 announcement that the city would begin requiring proof of immunization – the “Key to NYC Pass” – in order for people to participate in indoor activities such as dining at restaurants and bars, attending concerts and visiting fitness centers and gyms.

“If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated,” the mayor said. “It’s time.”

Another step toward incentivizing NYC residents to get inoculated, the mayor’s indoor vaccine mandate is the first of its kind in any major U.S. city, and comes amid an uptick in COVID-19 numbers due to the surging Delta variant. As of Aug.5, total COVID-19 cases rose citywide to 1,657, an increase from just a 204-case count back on June 22, according to NYC Health data.

The new mandate goes into effect on Aug. 16, but will not be enforced by the city until Sept. 13, according to city officials.

Previously, de Blasio offered $100 to New York City residents who received a vaccination.

Reach Christian Falcone at or (718) 260-2541. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.