A survey of New York City restaurants and pubs reveals the economic toll caused by the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, with 80 percent of establishments unable to pay their full June rent bill — and 36 percent paying no rent at all.
“Rent is putting enormous financial pressure on restaurants, bars and clubs after four near-fatal months of economic disaster in which many have already shuttered for good,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
Many restaurants closed during the peak of the pandemic in March through May.
Others offered takeout or pick-up service only as the state banned in-house dining to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Many eateries began offering outdoor dining service last week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the green light.
But there’s still a pause on offering indoor dining in the city because of concerns over a surge in COVID-19 cases in other states that allowed such gatherings as well as a failure of patrons and establishments to abide by social distancing and mask-wearing requirements.
The alliance surveyed 509 restaurants and bars.
Four of five survey respondents reported they did not pay full rent in June, and 36 percent of respondents said they paid no rent at all.
Of the portion of respondents who paid some of their rent, 90 percent paid half or less.
More worrisome, 73 percent of landlords — also under economic stress — refused to waive rent payments for their restaurants, bars and clubs in June, the poll found.
About 60 percent of landlords refused rent deferments and only 10 percent of restaurants, bars and clubs were able to renegotiate their leases.
The eateries are in a financial vice with the delay in offering indoor dining and outdoor dining only just getting off the ground, Rigie said. He called for elected officials to intervene as they have for residential tenants by banning evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our small businesses urgently need support on rent, so government officials, landlords and banks need to work together to find a solution. Whether it’s direct rent subsidies, deferring rent and extending payment schedules to the back end of lease agreements, and other creative ideas, we are in the midst of a rent crisis and need action now,” Rigie said.
“We’re eager to work with lawmakers and industry leaders on any tangible plans that provide immediate relief to struggling restaurants and nightlife venues across the city before it’s too late.”