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Restaurant Group Calls For Expanded Eviction Moratorium, More Aid As Sales Drop Persists

Outdoor dining in Manhattan's East Village in December 2020

Three in four New York City restaurants took in less than half of their 2019 sales in 2020, a report released Wednesday shows, prompting calls for further extension of the eviction moratorium and more aid at the state and local level. 

Some 44% of the 401 restaurants surveyed by the New York City Hospitality Alliance lost between 75% and all of their revenue in 2020 year-over-year, according to the new report. Thirty-one percent reported losing between half and 75% of their revenue.

“The industry needs continued financial support in the form of rent relief and payroll assistance, plus the extension of the moratorium on commercial rent evictions," NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said in a release.

The losses that the restaurants have faced have taken a toll on landlords, too — less than 10% of eateries paid full rent during December.

The federal government aimed to offset the industry's loss by allocating $28.6B to struggling restaurants in the recently passed stimulus package. Earlier this month, a new state law extended the commercial eviction moratorium to May 1 for some retailers, including many restaurants. 

"The federal financial relief for the restaurant industry championed by Senate Majority Leader Schumer and signed by President Biden was a crucial lifeline for thousands of our restaurants," Rigie said. "But without a continuous and concerted effort at all levels of government to revive the industry, the chances of recovery for these businesses and the city will only diminish." 

Despite increased indoor capacity and the continuation of outdoor dining in 2021, half of these restaurants said they expected their revenue to decrease 90% to 100% year-over-year in January as well. 

Forty-six percent of these restaurants said they would not survive without additional government aid. The restaurateurs said they primarily need help paying for payroll and rent, according to the survey. 

While the total number of restaurants that have shuttered permanently throughout the city isn't known, Eater reported it was nearly a thousand in August. 

In the year before the pandemic hit, the New York City restaurant industry employed over 23,600 people totaling $10.7B in wages, adding $27B in sales to the economy, according to a September report from the state government. The majority of those who held these jobs were people of color, the report showed.