Nearly 90 percent of New York’s restaurant owners say it will be at least somewhat unlikely that their establishments will be profitable in the next six months without help from the government.
This according to a New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) survey, the results of which the NYSRA released this week. The survey found that the financial impact has been devastating and the steps taken to provide relief at the federal and state levels will determine how and whether the restaurant industry will ever recover and thrive again. Here are some of the other significant findings from the survey:
At least one local restaurant owner said he’s been doing pretty well lately.
Pizzerias are set up for takeout and delivery, which has helped, Vic Marchese, owner of Main St. Pizza Company in Batavia, said recently.
“We’re holding our own. We’re bringing back employees as we need them,” Marchese said. “We’re doing more volume now than we were. We’re set up for takeout and delivery, so it really hasn’t had too bad of an effect on us.”
Marchese said though Main St. Pizza is a member of the NYSRA, he never saw a survey and has not had much interaction with the group. The NYSRA said the surveys were conducted in the first week of August.
The Main St Pizza owner would definitely accept federal aid if another stimulus package is approved.
“Most definitely — even though I’m doing a pretty good business, every little bit can help,” Marchese said. “We’re not doing the business we were doing.”
Main St. Pizza, like other restaurants, is limited to 50 percent capacity for indoor dining.
“Business is down a little, but it’s not bad,” he said.
One thing that has helped is outdoor dining, which Main St. Pizza, 206 E. Main St., has been able to offer for the last few weeks. With help from Executive Director Beth Kemp of the Business Improvement District and the state Department of Transportation, a plan for outdoor seating in front of the restaurant came together while accommodating people who park on East Main in front of the restaurant.
“It gave me about another 25 to 26 seats,” Marchese said. “I guess it was originally a New York state idea, just to make the seating available closer to the road. They’ve (the tables and chairs) got to be about 2 feet away from the roadway so people can open their doors.”
The permit for outdoor seating is good for a total of 120 days.
“My permit is only valid for 120 days. It’s been about three weeks now. We’ll keep the tables out there as long as we could,” he said.
Without a relief package from the government, NYSRA survey respondents said, more restaurants will have to close their doors for good and many New Yorkers will be out of work.
“Our members have been courageously working and innovating to be successful in this changing landscape. We are forever grateful to the loyal New Yorkers who have supported their neighborhood and favorite restaurants, without whom this modest success would not be possible. Now we are urging the federal government and the New York State Legislature to show their support for this industry which plays such a vital role in our state’s economy,” said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of NYSRA.
The survey found that the financial impact has been devastating and the steps taken to provide relief at the federal and state levels will determine how and whether the restaurant industry will ever recover and thrive again. Here are some of the other findings from the survey:
• 93.6 percent of New York restaurant operators saw lower sales volume from April–July compared to last year. Many restaurant operators reported a decrease in sales volume, from the previous year, of 70 percent or greater;
• 91.8 percent of New York restaurant operators have been forced to furlough or lay off employees since the COVID-19 outbreak, and a majority of restaurant operators (54.7 percent) had to lay off or furlough 90-100 percent of employees;
• 74.2 percent of New York restaurant operators have no plans of hiring additional employees in the next 30 days; and
• 18.6 percent of restaurants remain closed, either temporarily or permanently. For those still closed, the top reasons were a lack of business, lack of employees and limited or no indoor dining.
NYSRA members are asking for a relief package at the federal and state levels to help keep these important community resources viable and keep people employed.
When asked what government could do to help their businesses to survive the pandemic, the top three answers were:
• Provide commercial rent relief;
• Insist that business interruption insurance claims are paid;
• Increase the capacity for indoor dining.
The NYSRA said it conducted this survey to gain a clear understanding of the current and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on New York restaurants. More than 625 New York restaurant operators completed this survey in the first week of August.