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More Than 90 Percent of NYC Restaurants Couldn’t Afford December Rent: Report

Feb. 17, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Restaurant owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat after relying on outdoor dining alone during the cold winter months.

Indoor dining just reopened in the city at 25 percent capacity last Friday, but a new report shows the toll its absence has had on city eateries.

More than 90 percent of New York City restaurants couldn’t afford their December rent, according to a survey conducted by the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a nonprofit association that represents NYC restaurants, bars and nightlife.

The survey found that 92 percent of the more than 400 restaurants who responded to the survey couldn’t pay their rent for December. That’s up from 88 percent in October and 80 percent in June, the association said.

About 40 percent of the respondents said their landlords reduced rent due to COVID-19, but just 14 percent have been able to successfully re-negotiate leases, the survey found.

The restaurant industry has shed more than 140,000 jobs in the last year due to the pandemic and accompanying restrictions, the report states. Before COVID-19 devastated the industry, New York City’s 25,000 restaurants, bars and nightclubs employed 325,000 people, according to the NYC Hospitality Alliance.

Thousands of bars and restaurants have permanently closed, the association said.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance applauded the recent return of indoor dining, but said 25 percent capacity isn’t enough to help struggling small businesses.

They want it to be increased to 50 percent as it is in other parts of the state.

“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.”

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