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SURVEY: Only 12% Of NYC Restaurants Paid Full Rent Last Month

Outdoor dining in New York City

New York City restaurants' ability to pay their bills was going in the wrong direction before Gov. Andrew Cuomo tightened restrictions on drinking and dining establishments Wednesday.

In an uptick from previous months, 88% of restaurants citywide paid no or partial rent in October, according to a NYC Hospitality Alliance survey released Thursday, just a day before Cuomo's new rules requiring all eateries and bars to close by 10 p.m. take effect.

“Going on eight months, more than 24,000 restaurants, bars and clubs citywide that are so critical to New York’s economic and social fabric have been in dire straits,” NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said in a statement. “Half of the industry’s 300,000 employees are still without jobs, and those numbers can’t improve while more businesses are permanently closing and leaving empty storefronts in our neighborhoods.” 

Of the 400 different restaurateurs and bar owners surveyed across the city, 30% paid no rent at all, and nearly 60% said their landlord didn't waive any of the rent, according to the alliance. 

The survey’s release comes at a critical moment for New York City restaurants. Despite unseasonably warm temperatures over the past two weeks, the inevitability of cold weather looms large over the industry. Some restaurants say they will stop outdoor dining once the weather gets cold.

On top of that, the coronavirus infection rate, which had held relatively steady since the start of the summer, has been rising over the past two weeks. Last week’s average was 2.42% citywide. 

On Wednesday, Cuomo ordered all restaurants, bars and gyms to close at 10 p.m. in response to rising rates; the order takes effect Friday. The industry criticized the guidelines for the closure as unclear and seemingly arbitrary. 

“At the time of the announcement, restaurants have not been provided important details by the State or City about the new restrictions on their businesses,” Rigie said in a statement Wednesday night. “They don’t know if the restrictions apply to indoor and outdoor dining, and if customers need to leave the restaurant by 10 p.m. or if they can finish their meals, which is creating more confusion, so we hope that information is released immediately.”

The industry continued to request government support to survive, Rigie said.  

“These new restrictions should be publicly justified with contact tracing data because they will make it even more difficult for these small businesses to survive,” he said. “We demand that our elected leaders provide financial support to our city’s restaurants and bars before they permanently shutter and put tens of thousands of New Yorkers out of work.”

study published this week in the journal Nature from researchers at Stanford and Northwestern universities found that restaurants, gyms and hotels were more likely to be linked to superspreader events than other businesses.

An August survey of 1,042 restaurants statewide found that 64% will not make it to 2021 without government aid.