Restaurants question survival, despite $29B in federal relief

46% say they need ongoing policies, such as an eviction moratorium, to remain open

Andrew Rigie (Hospitality Alliance; iStock)
Andrew Rigie (Hospitality Alliance; iStock)

Despite some bailout money from Washington, New York City restaurants are foundering.

Forty-six percent say that they will not survive without financial aid, such as rent support, and ongoing policies, like an eviction moratorium, according to a survey of 401 restaurants and bars by the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

Most failed to turn a profit in 2020, and 75 percent of respondents saw sales decline by more than half. In January, half of the respondents saw a 90 percent or greater decline in average weekly sales compared to the same month last year.

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“The survival of our restaurants and bars is essential to the economic recovery of New York City, so the continued number and nature of these struggling small businesses is alarming,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.

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Restaurants received some relief in the recently passed federal stimulus, which provides $28.6 billion for eligible eateries in grants of up to $5 million.

The American Rescue Plan “was a crucial lifeline for thousands of our restaurants, but without a continuous and concerted effort at all levels of government to revive the industry, the chances of recovery for these businesses and the city will only diminish,” Rigie said.

Asked what they most needed help with, 49 percent of restaurants said rent and 41 percent said payroll.

The survey is the latest in a series of doom-and-gloom releases from the Hospitality Alliance during the pandemic. Its report last month found that 92% of restaurants could not make December rent.

In New York there have been some efforts by lawmakers to help restaurants, particularly with rent. Assembly member Harvey Epstein and Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced twin bills that would, in effect, Hospitality Alliance for some restaurateurs, The Real Deal reported last month.