Lady Gaga's dad says coronavirus hurting his NYC restaurant, vows to support impacted employees

'[My employees] are kind of like my children at this point' Joe Germanotta said

Joe Germanotta, the father of Lady Gaga, has earned his own spotlight in the New York City restaurant industry.

But since New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all restaurants in New York City to move to takeout orders and delivery service only in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, business for Germanotta hasn't been so glamorous.

Germanotta told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday that he's already seen a 70 percent drop in business due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, he noted that he plans to take care of employees at his Upper West Side Italian restaurant, Joanne Trattoria.

"These kids have been with me for eight years ... they're kind of like my children at this point," he said. "I intend to keep them on some type of stipend to keep them going."


In addition to the burden Germanotta faces as a result of the spreading virus, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is currently moving to evict his other New York restaurant, Art Bird & Whiskey Bar, from Grand Central Terminal.

The soul food eatery, located in the dining concourse at the iconic train station, received a notice from the MTA that the agency is seeking Germanotta's ouster because he has refused to pay rent to the transit agency, which owns the property.

Germanotta said he’s not paying because the number of homeless people and "intolerable" health conditions at Grand Central have hurt his business.

He was previously given 14 days from Feb. 27 to pay more than $260,000 in rent and fees owed to the MTA.

"The conditions are poor," he said. "The bathrooms are truly less than what you'd expect in a food concourse. It's continually dirty. They don't clean up. There are some pest control problems down there."


Notice of the MTA's effort to evict Art Bird was delivered on the same day all restaurants and bars were confined to takeout or delivery-only service, Germanotta said. At the same time, all non-essential proceedings in New York City civil courts have been postponed for 45 days to curb the spread of the virus.

The restaurateur said he has been continually "harassed" and singled out by MTA. None of the other eateries in the concourse have been threatened with eviction, Germanotta said, but several "want out, too."

If evicted from Grand Central, Germanotta said there will "probably" be 35 people who are going to be laid off.

"They don't care about the tenants," he said. "It's retaliatory and just general harassment."

Germanotta said he's offered solutions for the issues, such as donating food and offering refreshments to homeless individuals, but MTA's answer was "no."


The agency condemned Germanotta's actions in a sharply worded statement to FOX Business that noted eateries across the city have been hurt by mandatory closings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s reprehensible that this restaurant operator, who stopped paying rent long ago, would try to use a public health crisis to justify his absurd position," said MTA Communications Director Tim Minton. We hope that by the time New York returns to normal, the public will have a quality rent-paying tenant in place.”