NYC restaurant scene grows bleaker with 83% unable to pay July rent

71% said landlords wouldn't waive portions of rent due to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the American restaurant industry, a new survey shows 83% of New York City eateries, bars and nightclubs are unable to make their full July rent payment.

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Of those, 37% -- nearly half -- say they're unable to pay at all, according to the NYC Hospitality Alliance poll of 471 establishments.

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The survey's findings were slightly worse than a June report in which 80% of businesses said they were unable to pay their full rent, with 36% paying none.

FILE - In this May 28, 2020, file photo, patrons nurse drinks at tables outside New York restaurants. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Although the Big Apple is certainly better-positioned to handle coronavirus cases now than earlier in the year, indoor dining service is still banned and outdoor dining isn't generating sufficient revenue for the businesses to sustain themselves.

At the same time, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a team of inspectors are leading a crusade to shutter those who fail to comply with state restrictions.

Upon inspection, 60 businesses have had their liquor licenses suspended after restaurants such as the famed White Horse Tavern failed to serve food with their drinks -- a practice Cuomo mandated in an executive order many criticized as draconian.

According to data from Yelp, more than 2,800 businesses in New York City have permanently closed since March 1.

The Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, reports approximately one-third of the city's 240,000 small businesses may never reopen.

Yet while restaurateurs are struggling to get relief from their landlords, building owners are fighting to pay their own bills as rental income dwindles.

Some 71% of survey respondents said landlords would not waive portions of rent due to COVID-19, 61% would not defer rent payments, and 90% of landlords had not formally renegotiated leases.

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Around one-quarter of respondents said that they were currently attempting to renegotiate their rent payments.

On Monday, Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that an al fresco dining initiative allowing restaurants to serve customers on sidewalks and in curb lanes would return in the summer of 2021.

Nearly 10,000 restaurants have signed up for the program, known as Open Restaurants.

The establishments "deserve the chance to continue building their businesses back," de Blasio said in a statement. "II look forward to participating myself next year."