Rent Report Illustrates Industry’s Continuing Challenge
In a stark reminder of how the industry continues to struggle during the pandemic, the NYC Hospitality Alliance reports that 92% of restaurants in the “restaurant capital of the world” could not afford to pay their rents in December.
That was the latest dispatch in a dismal trend that began soon after pandemic restrictions were imposed in New York and in many other places across the country. By June 2020, for example, 80% of New York City restaurants reported they could not make rent. By October, that figure had risen to 88%.
“We’re nearly a year into the public health and economic crisis that has decimated New York City’s restaurants, bars and nightlife venues,” said 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. 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, and advocate for the enactment of the RESTAURANTS Act to save as many local eating and drinking spots and jobs as possible.”
Other lowlights from the NYC Hospitality Alliance Rent Report included the findings that:
- 60% of landlords still hadn’t waived rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Of the 40% of landlords that waived rent during the pandemic, fewer than one in five waived more than half the rent.
- 86% of respondents said they could not renegotiate their leases due to the pandemic.
Of course, the Big Apple is notorious for its high cost of living in the best of times — as a mayoral candidate once famously said, “The rent is too damn high.” And while it might be true that “to live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough, tough, tough,” as some part-time residents observed, the situation right now for foodservice operators and other small business owners across the country is tough (multiplied), too.
Not surprisingly, this Eater headline continues to turn up at the top of online searches of the topic: “What to Do If You Can’t Pay Restaurant Rent Because of COVID-19.” For more on how the industry is tackling this problem, check out the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s “Save Local Restaurants” page.