Survey of restaurant owners shows virus’s devastating effects on the industry

Photo courtesy of Libreshot

The New York restaurant industry is struggling as it lost billions of revenues and thousands of jobs during the coronavirus lockdown, a survey reported on Sunday. 

The National Restaurant Association conducted a nationwide survey on the impact of the coronavirus on the restaurant industry, finding the restaurants in New York “are among the hardest hit” — New York restaurants lost approximately $2 billion and more than 250,000 jobs in the first 22 days of March. 

Compared to the same period in 2019, the survey shows that New York restaurants reported a 58 percent decrease in overall sales this year.

Nationwide, 70 percent of restaurants laid off employees. Additionally, 50 percent expect more cuts in the next 30 days.

In New York, 78 percent of operators laid of employees in March, and 52 percent expect more cuts in the next 30 days.

“We fear the devastating and lasting impact on our restaurants, especially in New York City, the culinary capital of the world,” said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. 

To avoid the spread of the virus, the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office announced in mid-March urging the restaurants to voluntarily shut down. If the restaurant operators decide to remain open, they can only provide take-out and delivery services.

On the next day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined two neighboring state governors to announce the closing of all dine-in services and entertainment venues in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut starting on Mar. 16. 

The survey found that 48 percent percent of restaurants in New York temporarily closed to avoid the infection of COVID-19, which has sickened more than 66,000 New Yorkers as of March 30, according to the Governor’s Office. 

“Many restaurants have already closed and will never reopen, and restaurant employees are out of work, trying to figure out what’s next,” Fleischut said in a statement.  

The New York Restaurant Association said they are working with Gov. Cuomo on the next step to ease the loss of the restaurant industry.

Gov. Cuomo has announced a moratorium on evictions for all residential and commercial properties, taking off some pressures of paying rent for the restaurant operators. 

The State Liquor Authority has also adjusted its regulations to allow the delivery of alcoholic beverages in closed containers. 

The Restaurant Association is advocating for a delay in sales tax payments, which would provide some level of financial relief for restaurant owners while their businesses are closed. 

According to the association, these adjustments would allow some restaurants to remain open in the current pandemic crisis. 

“Restaurants are an important piece of the local economy and must be around to assist with the eventual recovery,” Fleischut said.