Restaurants need to reopen if they’re to survive – that was the stark but simple message sent to Governor Cuomo yesterday.
More than 1,000 banner carrying, chanting restaurant workers, owners and advocates marched through Manhattan to protest the closure of indoor dining, before gathering at the red steps in Times Square.
“Independent restaurants and bars employ 11 million people in this country. We are the biggest employer outside of the federal government,” said Chef Tom Colicchio, speaking at the protest. “We don’t want a handout. We want a bridge to keep us open and to keep his viable so we can actually start employing people again when things open up again. We need to pass the RESTAURANTS Act.”
Also among the speakers was Jeffrey Garcia, chairman of the NYS Latino Restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association, representing over 150 members throughout New York’s nightlife establishments, reported AMNY. “Over 6,000 businesses have closed since the beginning of the pandemic! The report from the New York City Hospitality Alliance shows that two-thirds of restaurants said they are likely to close by the end of the year without a comprehensive relief package by our government,” Garcia warned.
“We were so hopeful when indoor dining was allowed again to try to keep it afloat. But now that we’re unable to pay rent due to the shutdown, I’m afraid that I’m going to lose everything altogether,” Sandra Jaques, the owner of Inwood’s Il Sole restaurant, who had to fire nearly two dozen employees amid the pandemic told the New York Post.
A survey by the NYC Hospitality Alliance found nearly 87% of businesses couldn’t pay their full rent in August, that figure rising to 88% in October when outdoor dining was in place and indoor dining at 25% capacity.
Industry leaders warn thousands of NYC’s bars and restaurants have already gone under, and they say many more may not survive the new indoor dining ban, NY1 reports.
They’re calling on Congress to approve the Restaurants Act, $120 billion in direct assistance to restaurants to pay their rent, vendors and other expenses. They also want the state to allow restaurants to keep their quarterly sales taxes due this week.
“These are small business owners, workers that are the backbone of our city, the fabric of our nation, our society. They need support – they’re losing their livelihood,” Executive Director of NYC Hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie told NY1.