Zombie Dining Structure becomes Homeless Encampment after UES Restaurant Shuts Down 

Homeless encampment built in zombie dining structure after Mexicoma restaurant shut down/Upper East Site
Homeless encampment built in zombie dining structure after Mexicoma restaurant shut down/Upper East Site

MANHATTAN – Like many restaurants struggling to stay afloat during the tightest restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mexicoma installed a sprawling outdoor dining setup featuring a roof to shelter customers from the sun in the summer and elements in the spring and fall. Though, when the Upper East Side Mexican restaurant shut down last month, they left behind a structure in shambles that’s been turned into an apparent homeless encampment— leaving neighbors worrying about their safety.

It’s not clear when exactly Mexicoma closed for good— the front door’s glass is smashed and the phone number is disconnected. Emails and messages on social media have gone unanswered. Neighbors told Upper East Site it looked like the restaurant had gone under a few times, with the beginning of February being the last. 

Glass smashed at main entrance to Mexicoma/Upper East Site
Glass smashed at main entrance to Mexicoma/Upper East Site

That’s because at some point, someone tore the roof off of the outdoor dining structure sitting outside Mexicoma on East 85th Street at the corner of Second Avenue, leaving just a broken shell and wooden posts— some spots filled with accumulating trash, others acting as storage for construction barriers. 

ALSO READ | Russian Spies at Diplomatic Mission on the UES to be Expelled from the Country, US says

“It is really unsafe,” said Caryn, who lives on the block. “It was a cute restaurant but now they need to come finish and clean up.”

One section of the former outdoor dining structure appears to have been converted into a homeless encampment— with a makeshift bed built from cardboard with a blanket and what appears to be an attempt to build a roof over the sleeping area. 

Roof removed from zombie dining structure outside Mexicoma/Upper East Site
Roof removed from zombie dining structure outside Mexicoma/Upper East Site

“I’ve lived here 35 years, this is insane,” said another neighbor of the growing blight outside on the busy street corner.

Neighbors reported seeing drug paraphernalia in the deteriorating wooden enclosure, though on Monday Upper East Site didn’t see any, we did spot a dead rat next to the makeshift bed.

Two neighbors tell Upper East Site that calls to 311 were unsuccessful in reporting the potentially dangerous zombie dining structure— both said they were told 311 couldn’t accept the complaint before being transferred and disconnected.

Zombie dining structure outside Mexicoma accumulates trash and debris/Upper East Site
Zombie dining structure outside Mexicoma accumulates trash and debris/Upper East Site

“It’s horrible!” said Tamara, a concerned neighbor.

“We tried to call 311 to lodge a complaint but they did nothing!”

After being contacted by a concerned neighbor, Council Member Julie Menin’s office says it was able to get the abandoned structure outside Mexicoma added to a DOT removal list— and it plans to push for a speedy removal of the dilapidated dining area.

Zombie dining structure outside Mexicoma used to store construction barriers/Upper East Site
Zombie dining structure outside Mexicoma used to store construction barriers/Upper East Site

The NYC Department of Transportation says you can report zombie dining structures through the 311 website— though it’s not clear what happens when a report is filed because this eyesore had already been reported as abandoned through 311 on February 14th. 

ALSO READ | Agata & Valentina Close to Opening New Market on the Upper East Side

Just over two weeks later on the morning of March 1st, the 311 request was updated— after inquiries by Council Member Menin’s office and Upper East Site. A message now displays reading “The Department of Transportation inspected the condition and has scheduled the items for removal.” 

Mexicoma's outdoor dining structure before being abandoned/Google
Mexicoma’s outdoor dining structure before being abandoned/Google

At least two reports were filed with 311 about the homeless encampment as well. 

In response to one complaint, the NYPD referred the issue to the Department of Homeless Services, while the other complaint was closed with a message saying DHS “visited the location and is coordinating with their agency partners to address the condition.”

Despite multiple attempts, Mexicoma management nor the property’s owner could be reached for comment.

For updates around the clock, follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook

Russia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations on East 67th Street/Upper East Site

Russian Spies at Diplomatic Mission on the UES to be Expelled from the Country, US says

Elderly woman pulled from taxi fire on East 83rd Street by aide/Upper East Site

EXCLUSIVE: Elderly Woman Pulled from Burning Taxi by her Home Aide