NYC steakhouse owner says he lost millions in business due to city's vaccine mandate

Bobby Van's Steakhouse owner Joseph Smith blames Mayor de Blasio

A New York City steakhouse owner discussed the adverse economic impact of the city's coronavirus vaccine mandate, noting he lost nearly two million dollars of business due to the requirement. 

Bobby Van's Steakhouse owner Joseph Smith told "Varney & Co." on Monday that in the last six weeks, he lost $1.8 million in bookings between all of his restaurants.  

The vaccine mandate officially went into effect on August 17. 

Smith told host Stuart Varney that, since the announcement, many large parties of about  50 people, mainly coming in from out of state, canceled their reservations citing the fact that some people in the group didn’t want to get vaccinated and, therefore, did not want to come to New York City. 

"So we lost the business with them," he said, before blaming New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for the lost revenue.  

Last month, a group of New York restaurant and gym owners filed a lawsuit against New York City and Mayor de Blasio over the city's vaccine requirements.

De Blasio issued an executive order requiring patrons and employees of indoor restaurants, fitness and entertainment facilities to show proof of vaccination with either a paper certificate provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or New York State's "Excelsior" pass app championed by outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo over delta variant concerns.


The lawsuit, led by the Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue and filed in the New York Supreme Court, condemns the city's vaccine mandate for indoor restaurants as "arbitrary, irrational unscientific, and unlawful."

The lawsuit notes that a study released by New York State based on data from September and November of 2020 found that 74% of COVID-19 cases stemmed from household gatherings, while only 1.4% stemmed from restaurants.

Attorney Louis Gelormino, who is representing plaintiffs in the suit, told Fox News that the mandate is "unconstitutional on so many levels." 

Gelormino claimed the mandates violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws, privacy laws, civil protection laws, commerce laws and so on.

A spokesperson for de Blasio did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment. 

However, his executive order points to a Yale University study that found New York City’s "vaccination campaign" is estimated to have helped prevent about "250,000 COVID-19 cases, 44,000 hospitalizations and 8,300 deaths from COVID-19 infection since the start of vaccination through July 1, 2021."

In a statement last month, De Blasio said, "New York City has one mission: defeat the delta variant and build a recovery for all of us." 

"The Key to NYC sends a powerful message that vaccination will unlock our city’s potential, and we’ll stop at nothing to save lives and keep New Yorkers safe," the mayor added. 


Smith noted that outdoor dining has been "a lifeline to many restaurants" during the pandemic, although he did not benefit from it that much given most of his customers are business people. 

"We do businesswomen and businessmen and they don’t want to be sitting by a bus or truck [that] is going by [when they are] trying to talk business," Smith told Varney. "But for 80% of the city, it’s been a lifeline."

He stressed that outdoor seating "helps a lot," but added that, "it would help more if we didn’t have them come out with a vaccine card."

"I lost $1.8 million in business, what about the hotels? What about the taxis? What about the theater? What about the souvenir stores? Everybody lost," Smith continued. 


FOX Business’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.