Bobby Van's Steakhouse owner Joseph Smith warned on Tuesday that “a lot” of restaurants will close by the end of the year without help from the federal government amid the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictions.
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Smith told “Mornings with Maria” that a real estate broker calls him twice a day “with different locations that have closed and the landlords are looking to put someone in, but only a fool would go into the space today.”
He went on to say that New York City, the location of several of his steakhouses, is “in a terrible situation.” Smith noted that Midtown has been “especially” terrible.
“Midtown, the restaurants are getting killed,” he said, attributing the loss of business to people working from home leaving many companies, which are located in Midtown Manhattan, mostly empty. Smith noted that on the contrary, the residential neighborhoods in Manhattan including the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side “are doing well and surviving” amid the pandemic.
Smith pointed out that the investment bank Barclays, which is across the street from his restaurant located in Midtown on 50th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, usually has thousands of people in the building, but not at the moment.
“They [Barclays] have anywhere from seven to 10,000 people in the building, there’s not 100 people in it now,” Smith said. “And those are the people that come and dine at my restaurants and it’s the same all over the city in the four locations.”
Restaurants across the country are finding it harder and harder to weather the pandemic as a new slate of curfews and closures on top of no additional government relief push them into an even deeper financial hole.
Lawmakers in Congress have been negotiating a new stimulus package for months, but have so far not managed to come to an agreement that would pass both chambers and President Trump. It is unclear to what extent the dynamics will change when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
In recent weeks, several governors, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have implemented curfews and mandated that bars and restaurants shutter dine-in operations by 10 p.m. local time in order to stem the now surging pandemic that has shown no signs of slowing down before the holiday season.
New York State Restaurant Association CEO and President Melissa Fleischut said the latest restrictions were a “huge blow to the restaurant industry that is desperately trying to stay afloat” during a pandemic that has already resulted in widespread closures and layoffs.
“This city and state is being run by two clowns,” Smith said of New York on Tuesday.
In Los Angeles County, health officials announced Sunday that onsite service for restaurants, bars and wineries will be prohibited for at least three weeks to try and stem the “alarming” rate of coronavirus cases in the nation's most populous county.
According to a survey released in September by the National Restaurant Association, nearly 1 in 6 restaurants, which represents nearly 100,000 restaurants, is closed either permanently or long-term since March.
The survey also found that 40% of operators don’t think their restaurant will still be in business by March if there is no additional aid from the federal government.
The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to members of Congress and the Trump Administration in September, pointing out the findings of the survey and stressing the need to pass small business programs in stand-alone bills.
“It’s extremely difficult times and not everywhere can you do outside dining,” Smith noted, stressing the need for federal aid to save the restaurant industry.
FOX Business’ Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.