Despite reopening and recovery efforts, some New York restaurants are barely hanging on.
Restaurant sales are down 44 percent across the state year-over-year, and most restaurant operators do not expect business conditions to improve over the next several weeks, according to the latest survey by the New York State Restaurant Association.
Furthermore, 27 percent of New York operators say they will “probably” or “definitely” close within three months if no additional aid is forthcoming from the federal government.
While that number is jarring, it’s a slight improvement from the trade association’s last report. In December, 54 percent of New York restaurants said they would likely not survive the next six months.
Even so, there doesn’t seem to be much hope among restaurateurs. About 30 percent think it will be 7 to 12 months before business conditions return to normal for their restaurant, while 35 percent think it will be more than a year. About 14 percent believe business conditions will never return to normal.
Despite indoor dining capacity being upped in New York City and warmer weather ahead, close to half of restaurateurs think things will get worse before they get better: 46 percent believe their sales will decline in February and March from January’s levels.
The statewide survey echoes the problems being faced by restaurateurs in the five boroughs. A recent report by the New York City Hospitality Alliance found that 92 percent of restaurants surveyed could not make December rent. About 37 percent have deferred rental payments, which could lead to larger problems down the line.
“The effects of the past year will undoubtedly have a lasting impact, and we continue to hear the tough circumstances facing New York operators,” Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of NYSRA, said in a statement. “New York has taken steps to reopen the economy, a welcomed and encouraging effort, but that alone cannot supplant financial assistance.”
Financial assistance at both the federal and state level remains elusive, although legislation has been introduced to address both. The RESTAURANTS Act remains up in the air as Congress debates a broader stimulus package, which recently passed in the House. A new piece of state legislation, meanwhile, would essentially cancel rent for restaurants, while providing financial assistance to their landlords.