Survey Says Most NYC Restaurants Couldn’t Pay December’s Rent

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Some 92 percent of the more than 400 restaurants surveyed by the NYC Hospitality Alliance indicated that they could not foot the bill for rent, the nonprofit industry association said in a press release on Tuesday (Feb. 16).

Just 8.4 percent of those surveyed said they paid all rent owed. Some 46.4 percent paid some rent and 45.2 percent paid no rent, the survey results indicated. The number of restaurants not able to afford rent has advanced, escalating from 80 percent to 88 percent from June through October. 

“While the reopening of highly regulated indoor dining is welcome news, we need to safely increase occupancy to 50 percent as soon as possible, and we urgently need robust and comprehensive financial relief from the federal government,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in the press release.

Indoor dining was largely banned until Friday (Feb. 12), when capacity opened to 25 percent. Outdoor dining, takeout and delivery have been allowed since October. More than 140,000 jobs in New York City’s restaurant and hospitality industry were lost last year, according to the alliance. Just 14 percent renegotiated leases and other terms. Some 10,000 eateries took part in the city’s Open Streets program, which led to the saving of some 100,000 jobs. Meanwhile, yhe winter season of 2021 has so far piled nearly two feet of snow, which makes it among the worst storms since 2016.

Restaurants have been struggling for almost a year since the pandemic took hold in March 2020. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo earmarked some $50 million to enable restaurants to hire back workers. It’s rent, however, that puts operators at a greater risk of closing down.

New York saw its state coffers drop 10 percent last year, a decrease of $1.8 billion that was deeper than the rest of the state. Rents plummeted in the city while vacancies escalated. 

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