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Survey: 90% of NY restaurants will soon be unprofitable without government help

Posted at 11:47 AM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 18:23:34-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Restaurant owners in New York are asking the federal government for help. Without that help, 89.7% of owners say that it will be very or somewhat unlikely that their establishments will be profitable in the next six months, according to the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA).

"We weren't going to be able to sustain the losses we were having," said Michael Davern, Partner at Jerk's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream on Main Street in Buffalo.

On August, Davern announced Jerk's will be closing it's doors due to COVID-19. Without downtown workers coming in on their lunch break or audiences from Shea's, business is down and costs are up.

"From maintaining everything we need to for all of covid policies, the increasing costs for things like face masks and finding out we needed an extra staff person on just to clean," said Davern.

The latest survey conducted by the (NYSRA) found that the financial impact has been devastating for NY restaurants.

They found that:

  • 93.6% of New York restaurant operators saw lower sales volume from April – July of 2020 as compared to last year
  • Many restaurant operators reported a decrease in sales volume from the previous year of 70% or greater
  • 91.8% of New York restaurant operators have been forced to furlough or lay off employees since the COVID-19 outbreak
    • 54.7% of those had to lay off or furlough 90-100% of employees
  • 74.2% of New York restaurant operators have no plans of hiring additional employees in the next 30 days.
  • 18.6% 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.

"If this isn't over by the winter, what are we going to do when the weather turns cold? So we need the government to come back and negotiate another COVID relief package," said Melissa Fleischut, President & CEO of the NYSRA.

The NYSRA is calling for a relief package at the federal and state levels to help keep restaurants open. Specifically, they want government to:

  • Provide commercial rent relief
  • Insist that business interruption insurance claims are paid
  • Increase the capacity for indoor dining

"The other part would be, even beyond money, I think it's a shift in mentality about more collaboration and cooperation with all of the local businesses," said Davern.

This might not be the end for Jerks. The plan is to re-open at a new location next spring, but Davern says he can't do that unless he get's that help from the government.

"The place that you intended to go to might not be open tomorrow so don't delay going and visiting and every bit of support that everyone can give, would be really a great help," said Davern.