Restaurants have been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic fallout. Though many eateries stayed open throughout the crisis to offer delivery and takeout, others shuttered for good.
As a result, workers were laid off and left to fend for themselves, tax revenue for the city decreased, and communities were changed forever.
At the height of the pandemic, the Queens Chamber of Commerce predicted that half of the borough’s roughly 6,000 restaurants may never return. Sadly, they may be right.
According to a survey of nearly 500 restaurant and bar owners by the NYC Hospitality Alliance, 83 percent of respondents said they could not fully pay their commercial rent in July.
Another survey by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce found that half of 234 Brooklyn small businesses reported 50 percent or greater losses in revenue this summer. In that same survey, 28 percent of businesses said they couldn’t pay rent in August, and 39 percent owe back rent for previous months.
A whopping 53 percent said they will struggle to stay open in the next three months.
Though the popularity of outdoor dining has been a boon to the restaurant industry, especially during the summer months, one restaurant owner in Brooklyn said it best: winter is coming.
What happens then? Customers may not want to eat outside, and whatever revenue restaurants are making now will surely dry up.
Last week, the NYC Hospitality Alliance called on the mayor and governor to come up with an indoor dining plan for New York City. As they noted, patrons can eat indoors at restaurants all across the state, with the exception of the Big Apple.
Indoor dining was slated to restart in early July, but it has been almost two months, and elected leaders still have no plan. When asked about the possibility of indoor dining this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio bluntly said it’s not going to happen anytime soon.
That’s not good enough, especially for restaurants that suffered some of their worst months during the pandemic.
Government leaders need to at least have a plan, something that restaurant owners can look to for guidance. Otherwise, we’ll see one of the best aspects of New York City culture, its dining establishments, fall by the wayside.