Most NYC Restaurants Could Not Pay Full Rent in May, Survey Finds

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More than 87% of New York City restaurants were unable to pay rent, or pay rent in full, in May because of the economic impact of the coronavirus, according to a new survey.

With many restaurants reporting more than half of their business lost to the shutdown, two-thirds of 483 survey restaurant owners say they’ll need at least 70% occupancy in order to try reopening for business, according to data released Thursday by the NYC Hospitality Alliance.

The numbers showed the grim reality for businesses and individuals who work in the industry that has lost billions of dollars since the start of the pandemic.

Even with loans from the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, many restaurants still struggle. Forty percent of surveyed businesses that received funding say they're unsure whether they'll use the money because the program requires them to rehire staff to pre-pandemic levels by June 30. Around 50% say they still haven't received their loans.

With the "NY on PAUSE" order now having been extended to June 13, restaurant operators say they rehiring all staff isn't realistic. When they are permitted to reopen, which could still be more than four weeks away, they will still have to follow social distancing orders which will reduce their dine-in occupancy.

“To help restaurants and bars reopen and stay open safely, we need to reimagine how we use public space – sidewalks, streets, pedestrian plazas and parks – and allow businesses to set up and serve customers in these areas," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.

Only 43.4% of restaurant owners say they expect to fully reopen and 3.6% say they will permanently shut down.

More relief could come soon in another coronavirus relief package bill. The aid package proposed earlier this week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi includes $1 trillion for states and cities, “hazard pay” for essential workers and a new round of payments to individuals.

The Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote on the package as soon as Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Republican-controlled Senate will wait until after Memorial Day to consider options.

Copyright NBC New York
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