87 Percent Of NYC Eateries Couldn’t Pay August Rent, Study Finds

Matt Troutman
·2 min read

NEW YORK CITY — More of New York City’s bars, restaurants and nightlife venues couldn’t pay the full check when rent came due in August, a new study found.

And a large number — 34 percent, to be precise — couldn’t pay rent at all, according to the NYC Hospitality Alliance survey released Monday.

“Restaurants, bars and nightlife venues have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andrew Rigie, the group’s executive director, in a statement. “Even before the pandemic when operating at 100 percent occupancy, these small businesses were struggling to stay open. Now we’re seeing widespread closures, approximately 150,000 industry workers are still out of their jobs, and the overwhelming majority of these remaining small businesses cannot afford to pay rent.”

The survey quizzed 457 establishments across New York City. It found 87 percent of them couldn’t pay their full rent in August — up from 83 percent in July.

What’s more, 90 percent of establishments surveyed couldn’t renegotiate their leases and 60 percent of landlords wouldn’t waive rent.

The results paint a dire picture of New York City’s restaurant industry in the days before indoor dining returns Sept. 30 at 25 percent capacity.

Restaurateurs clamored for months calling for officials to give a go-ahead on reopening dining rooms. But Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed concerns over indoor spaces spreading the coronavirus, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had doubts about whether city officials would properly enforce social distancing restrictions.

Eventually, Cuomo relented and authorized indoor dining despite de Blasio’s concerns. De Blasio, for his part, has repeatedly touted the city’s Open Restaurants outdoor dining program.

But based on the survey’s results, it appears outdoor dining failed to help keep afloat a substantial portion of city results. Rigie called for the indefinite expansion of outdoor dining, in addition to other measures.

“The hospitality industry is essential to New York’s economic and social fabric, and to ensure the survival of these vital small businesses and jobs, we urgently need rent relief, an indefinite extension of outdoor dining, a roadmap for expanded indoor dining, covered business interruption insurance and immediate passage of the Restaurants Act by Congress,” he said in a statement.

This article originally appeared on the New York City Patch