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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Strong

Survey Finds 92% of NYC Restaurants Can't Pay Rent

A new survey by the NYC Hospitality Alliance reveals 92 percent of more than 400 respondents couldn’t afford to pay December rent, a number that has steadily increased since the start of the pandemic. In June, 80 percent of restaurants could not afford to pay rent; July 83 percent; August 87 percent; and October 88 percent. Thousands of eating and drinking establishments have already permanently closed as a result of the pandemic and accompanying restrictions, and the industry shed more than 140,000 jobs in the last year.

The same survey found only 36 percent of tenants’ landlords deferred rent in relation to Covid-19; and only 14 percent of businesses have been able to successfully renegotiate leases (61 percent have not, 24 percent are in “good faith” negotiations).

To be sure, a return to indoor dining at 25 percent occupancy offers a glimmer of hope for New York City’s struggling restaurants, but it's just a band aid on a full on hemorrhage. A path to reopening at 50 percent occupancy is necessary to continue treading water, and that only robust and compressive federal stimulus can truly save the industry, which nationwide has lost some 110,000 restaurants and 2.5 million jobs, 372,000 jobs of which were lost in December alone.

“We’re nearly a year into the public health and economic crisis that has decimated New York City’s restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “While the reopening of highly regulated indoor dining is welcome news, we need to safely increase occupancy to 50% as soon as possible, and we urgently need robust and comprehensive financial relief from the federal government."

The Alliance plans to continue to push for federal stimulus, working with Senator and Majority Leader Schumer to ensure that the $25 billion restaurant industry recovery fund is passed as part of the Biden administration’s emergency relief plan, and advocate for the enactment of the RESTAURANTS Act to save as many local eating and drinking spots and jobs as possible.

The backbone of this city is our restaurant industry —it is an economic engine, an integral part of our culture, and a magnet for talent and innovation. What can you do to help keep it alive? Write to your senators, order in (use Chow Now if possible), eat out, and buy gift cards. Share the love.

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