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SURVEY: 63% Of The Empire State's Restaurants Could Be Gone 'In A New York Minute' By 2021

Nearly two-thirds of New York’s restaurants are on track to close by the end of 2020 and over half of those restaurants are likely to do so within the next two months. 

Just under 64% of some 1,042 restaurants across the state said they would close by New Year’s Day without monetary assistance and 54.8% said they would be forced to close by Nov. 1, according to a survey conducted by the New York State Restaurant Association and released Thursday. 

“Without further assistance, the restaurant industry as we know it could be gone in a New York minute,” NYSRA President and CEO Melissa Fleischut said in a release. “These recent survey results illustrate just how dire the financial situation has become for most restaurants, and it shows how critical it is that elected officials understand the urgency of the situation.”

A survey by the same organization last month found that 89.7% of restaurant owners said they would not turn a profit within the next six months, according to the release. 

“When we found out so many restaurants were not going to be profitable in six months, we started to ask, if they are not going to be profitable, how many will be able to remain open?” Fleischut told Bisnow in an interview Friday. 

In the August survey, NYSRA also asked surveyors what kind of support and additional governmental assistance they would need in order to get through the crisis. The top three responses were rent relief, payment of business interruption insurance claims and the reopening of indoor dining in the city, according to the release. 

These three forms of relief have been echoed in interviews Bisnow has conducted with restaurant owners over the past three months. 

Over 1,000 retailers nationwide filed lawsuits since the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. asking insurance companies to bail them out amid the crisis, Bisnow reported earlier this week. Business interruption insurance claims have been denied nearly universally throughout the city, New York City Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said. 

The survey results come amid a firestorm of ardent demands from New York City's restaurant and bar owners to restart indoor dining. Some restaurateurs are suing the state for $2B in damages, claiming the state violated their constitutional rights by continuing to ban indoor dining throughout the city long after it was set to reopen in June.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would like to see the city’s restaurants open for indoor dining but that the city’s coronavirus safety compliance rates were not at the level needed to do so.

“[Cuomo’s] suggestion that compliance is the hold up is not supported by the inspection data from his agencies which indicates nearly 100% compliance in the City,” Rigie said in a statement Thursday. “Restaurants in New York City are well-regulated by the NYC Department of Health, who conduct thousands of inspections a year and are certainly not shy about it.” 

There has been little proof found for Cuomo’s claim that New York City is worse at coronavirus safety compliance measures. 

“Any further holdup continues to jeopardize tens of thousands of small businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs in New York,” Rigie said. 

One Manhattan bar owner told Bisnow last month that he has not been able to pay his rent since March. Landlords have been negotiating abatements and deferrals with their restaurant tenants across the city. 

National restaurant trade associations have been lobbying the federal government to craft a relief program specifically for restaurants. So far, no such policy appears to be on the horizon.