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Hospitality Vet On Surviving Coronavirus, Laying Off Staff And The Path To Reopening

Bisnow has a new podcast chronicling how members of the commercial real estate industry are dealing with the impact of the current global health crisis. The economic impacts are vast, and it is forcing businesses to adapt and make difficult decisions.

In this series, Make Yourself At Home, we are hearing from members of the commercial real estate industry about how they are managing this new reality and gaining insight into their day-to-day approaches. You can subscribe on iTunes and Spotify. 

Scott Gerber, right, and his family.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to retreat to our homes, and while that has affected businesses across the board, the impact is particularly painful for bars and restaurants.

In this week's episode of Make Yourself At Home, we hear from Scott Gerber, the CEO of Gerber Group, which runs bars like Mr. Purple at The Indigo Hotel on the Lower East Side, The Campbell — a bar in Grand Central Terminal — and multiple venues at the new TWA Hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport. All 10 Gerber Group venues in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta are closed, and nearly 400 employees have been laid off. 

"It was horrible, we've been in business for 30 years, a lot of people have worked with me that long, and I never, ever could have imagined having to do this," he said. "Never could we have imagined closing our business."

He discusses the landlords that are making him pay rent, accessing government help, dealing with the virus himself and how we may edge back to normality. 

"I think at some point we're all going to get comfortable going back out, socially ... but social habits will change a bit," he said. "We're social animals ... [but] I think people's social habits will change. I know when employees come back we'll be taking temperatures and the cleaning guidelines are going to be a lot more intense."