Main Street Monday – New York City Restaurants Report  57% Decrease in Employment

February 22, 2021

Caity Roach

Main Street Monday – New York City Restaurants Report  57% Decrease in Employment

“We’re nearly a year into the public health and economic crisis that has decimated New York City’s restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues,” says Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “While the reopening of highly regulated indoor dining is welcome news, we need to safely increase occupancy to 50% as soon as possible, and we urgently need robust and comprehensive financial relief from the federal government.”

According to NYC Hospitality Alliance’s 2020 Year-End Report,New York City, which was considered the “Restaurant Capital of the World” prior to the pandemic, has lost thousands of restaurants and seen a 57% decrease in hospitality industry employment. Additionally, the percentage of New York City restaurant owners who are unable to make their monthly rent payments has steadily increased throughout the pandemic, reaching 92% in December due to restrictions on indoor dining.

NYC Hospitality Alliance’s poll found that only 40% of New York City landlords reduced rent for restaurants impacted by government-mandated restrictions and just 36% allowed tenants to defer rent. Although some (14%) restaurant owners were able to successfully renegotiate leases, others were forced to make the difficult decision to either close permanently or consider an alternative business model.

To reduce overhead costs and continue operations, some small business restaurants have begun taking advantage of services like UseKitch, a New York City startup that pairs restaurant owners with underutilized kitchen spaces in restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs. Other restaurant owners have adapted by sharing kitchen spaces with other struggling businesses or switching to a delivery-only model. 

The recently announced return to indoor dining at 35% occupancy offers a glimmer of hope for New York City’s struggling restaurants, but many business owners and industry leaders are still waiting on additional federal aid. “We will continue to work with Senator and Majority Leader Schumer to ensure that the $25 billion restaurant industry recovery fund is passed as part of the Biden administration’s emergency relief plan,” says Rigie. “[We will also] advocate for the enactment of the Restaurants Act to save as many local eating and drinking spots and jobs as possible.”

NYC Hospitality Alliance