Omicron created huge vacuum of cancellations that 'keep on going': NYC restaurant owner

Manhattan restaurant owner Thomas Makkos says business dropped by about 70%

New York City restaurant owner Thomas Makkos noted that business has dropped by about 70% over the past two weeks because of fears related to the "very transmissible" omicron strain. 

The owner of Nello, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, told "Varney & Co." on Tuesday that there have been "a lot of cancellations" as "people are very afraid to come out." 

"It has created a huge vacuum of cancellations that keep on going," Makkos stressed.

He added that the new coronavirus strain is adding challenges to an industry already battered by the virus and the mandates that were enforced in an effort to curb its spread. 

Makkos provided the insight into the industry one day after New York City's vaccine mandate for private employers went into effect, as the largest city in the country looks to implement the strictest vaccine requirement on non-government employees yet. 

That means workers at every business in the city, no matter the size, must provide proof to their employer that they have received at least one vaccine dose, and proof of a second dose no later than 45 days after that. The requirement applies to contractors as well.


If they do not, the employer must ban them from the workplace or else the business could be subject to a "fine of $1,000 and escalating penalties thereafter if violations persist." 

Makkos stressed on Tuesday that the regulations in the city are "immensely" hurting business. 

He said the regulations "were very strict from day one," especially for New York City restaurants. 

Makkos said Nello was closed for about seven months and then reopened initially at 25% capacity. 

"It was catastrophic," he said, regarding the loss in revenue. He stressed that while restaurants in the city were closed, some restaurants on Long Island were allowed to stay open, with those in Suffolk County doing "tremendous business."  

Makkos argued that while New York City has been protecting people from COVID, another problem related to the economy has been exacerbated:

"Restaurants are all in trouble. They owe landlords a lot of money," he said, arguing that those that remain open were likely given a "lifeline" by their landlords.  

In a news release, the New York State Restaurant Association pointed to estimates from the National Restaurant Association that one out of every six restaurants in the country closed due to the pandemic and said that, based on estimates, that means more than 8000 restaurants in New York state, 4,500 of which are in New York City, have shut their doors for good. 

"Way too many restaurants have not survived unfortunately," Makkos said on Tuesday, stressing that it has been "very difficult." 

He said that his restaurant has managed to survive due to its 25-year longevity in the neighborhood, calling it "internationally known." 


"With that support, we were able to be here and hopefully we can navigate through for the next couple months," he added. "Hopefully omicron will subside." 


FOX Business’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.