New York restaurants hit hard by pandemic

Photo courtesy of @nysrestaurantassociation

A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association found that, for the second straight month, New York’s restaurant industry is one of the hardest-hit industries in the country. 

Sales are down or non-existent, workers are laid off and 11 percent of restaurants will likely be permanently closed by the end of the month, owners say. A staggering 80 percent of restaurant workers are laid off or furloughed, according to the survey.

“It goes without saying that this has been the most difficult two months the industry has seen in generations. This pandemic was more like a tsunami, with little to no time to prepare. The restaurant industry is teetering on the edge of collapse, said Melissa Fleischut, president & CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. 

“Those that are staying open for takeout and delivery can hopefully tread water long enough to remain viable in the long run. For those that are temporarily closed, we all hope that the public health data continues to improve so that the economy can reopen enough to support them.”

The survey, conducted between April 10 and 16, reached more than 6,500 restaurant operators across the nation, with 550 of them in New York. 

Nationwide, the food service industry will lose more than $50 billion in sales in the month of April – $3.6 billion of those sales lost from New York’s food industry. 

More than eight million employees nationwide have been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. This represents a 66 percent reduction in staff from 12 million employees in February 2020. 

In New York, more than 527,000 restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed. That equates to 80 percent of the 659,500 employees that were working at New York’s eating and drinking establishments in February. 

Since the outbreak, 93 percent of restaurant operators in New York have been forced to furlough or lay off workers employees since the start of the outbreak. 

In addition, operators in New York have seen a 79 percent decline in sales from April 1 to April 10 compared to last year. Only 51 percent of restaurant operators will continue to keep their businesses open for just takeout and delivery, the remaining 49 percent will close their restaurants for at least the next 30 days. 

Compared to last year, 97 percent of restaurant operators report that their sales are down. Four percent of New York operators have permanently closed their restaurants since the outbreak, while 7 percent expect to permanently close their doors in the next 30 days.

The New York State Restaurant Association continues to work with elected officials in the federal, state and local levels to advocate for their industry. The industry has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a clear and dedicated restoration plan emphasizing the huge role the restaurant industry plays in our state’s economy is critical to restoring these jobs when the economy reopens.

“We are committed to working with our members to share best practices and cost savings opportunities as many are doing their best in this bad situation. That being said, there are still more questions than answers. We urge officials at all levels of government to prioritize resources and create economic reopening policies that would restore our industry’s ability to bring back the half-million restaurant employees that are currently out of work,” said Fleischut.