88% of NYC restaurants could not make October rent

Survey marks new high despite return of indoor dining

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance (Photos via Getty; Institute of Culinary Education)
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance (Photos via Getty; Institute of Culinary Education)

Despite the return of indoor dining, restaurants are still struggling to make rent.

A record high 88 percent could not pay full October rent, according to the latest survey of more than 400 restaurants, bars and nightlife venues by the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

That percentage has gradually increased throughout the pandemic. In June, 80 percent of respondents didn’t make full rent. In July that number crept up to 83 percent. And in August — the most recent month that the survey was conducted — 87 respondents couldn’t make rent.

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“Going on eight months, more than 24,000 restaurants, bars and clubs citywide that are so critical to New York’s economic and social fabric have been in dire straits,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a press release. “Half of the industry’s 300,000 employees are still without jobs, and those numbers can’t improve while more businesses are permanently closing and leaving empty storefronts in our neighborhoods.”

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Of those who couldn’t pay full rent, 30 percent paid nothing at all.

Some restaurants have managed to make new arrangements with their landlord. Forty-one percent have had rent waived, with 68 percent of those seeing half or more of it waived. Thirty-three percent have received deferrals.

Still, more than half — 54 percent — have neither renegotiated their leases nor are in good-faith negotiations currently.

The results come despite more than a month of indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. Colder weather and earlier sunsets likely offset that by reducing the allure of eating outdoors.

Establishments recently were hit with another wave of restrictions as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, responding to steady increases in Covid cases, prohibited any with a state liquor license from staying open past 10 p.m.

Studies show a few types of establishment — restaurants among them — are responsible for a large portion of coronavirus spread because they involve gathering indoors for long periods and high rates of respiration.