Two-thirds of NYC restaurants slated to close without government aid


Chris Goldberg | Flickr

Ricardo Pena-Castro

“93% of New York restaurant operators have been forced to lay off or furlough employees since the outbreak,” The New York State Restaurant Association reported.

Owners are struggling to make a profit as they bear operating costs and have a limited consumer base. If restaurants do close, even temporarily, employees will be left unemployed and suppliers will not have any cash flow. Thus, the entire restaurant supply chain is at risk of collapsing.

Nearly two-thirds of New York’s restaurants are likely to close by year’s end without government support, according to the NYSRA. Without state and federal assistance, the future of restaurants is bleak. In order to survive the pandemic, restaurant owners want commercial rent relief, business interruption insurance claims to be paid and the capacity for indoor dining to be increased.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stepped in to slow down closures across the state. On Sept. 21, he extended the moratorium on COVID-19 related commercial evictions until Oct.20. “The pandemic remains far from over, and we need to continue protecting the business owners supporting their families amid restrictions necessary to protect the public health,” he said.

New York City’s popular Open Restaurants program, which allows businesses to participate in outdoor dining, had been made permanent on Sept. 25. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan will allow restaurants to operate outdoors even as it gets colder. Restaurants have been given permission to incorporate heating elements to outdoor dining setups.

Indoor dining will also resume on Sept. 30 with a 25 percent occupancy limit. Restaurants have the option of reopening the dining area.If they choose to do so, they will have to follow strict safety protocols. These include temperature checks, contact information for tracing and more.

“This is good news and the right step forward, especially for restaurant owners and staff who have been struggling through this time. But it is up to all of us to ensure compliance and the health and safety of those around us,” said the governor.

Not all of the steps taken by government officials have been touted by stakeholders. Take into account NYSRA President and CEO Melissa Fleischu. Mayor de Blasio’s Restaurant Revitalization Program provided up to $30,000 to select restaurants to pay unemployed or under-employed workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Fleischu said the program was “a non- starter for many,” and wished that “the city approached the business community to help ground this program in reality before moving forward with it.”