Indoor dining returns to New York, but is it too late for some places?
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New Yorkers will not need to weather the cold to eat at a restaurant. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that restaurants can reopen for indoor dining at the end of the month.
But the classic New York dining experience – elbow to elbow – will not be returning. Restaurants can only operate at 25% capacity.
Even in normal times, running a profitable restaurant in New York City is tough. Margins are thin and there are lots of costs, such as labor, food and high rents.
Now, add personal protective equipment and reduce your seating to 25%.
“For many places that’s not going to be enough to make the return to business profitable,” said Christopher Muller, former hospitality professor at Boston University.
But, it’s a step in the right direction, said Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association.
“If you have a robust takeout and delivery currently, if outdoor dining has been working well for you, this will be an additional piece to help you build back,” she said.
Before the pandemic, New York City restaurants generated about $25 billion a year in revenue. Alex Susskind, a professor at Cornell University said other industries feed off the restaurant business, adding that “it’s important for tourism. It’s important for the lodging business, it’s important for everything.”
And he said, if restaurants can make a comeback, then the city can begin to recover.
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