As the impact of the pandemic continues to unfold, restaurants and food retailers in New York are running out of options to keep their businesses afloat. With the uncertainty around the return of indoor dining and the mounting rent payments, around two-thirds of New York State’s restaurants could permanently close by the end of the year according to a September survey by the New York State Restaurant Association.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, like Fed Chairman Jerome Powell before him, said the central bank believed “additional fiscal support will likely be needed” to lift the U.S. economy out of its coronavirus-related downturn.
Powell warned Tuesday in congressional testimony that a U.S. recovery from the coronavirus pandemic "continues to be highly uncertain."
Some restaurants have already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy since the lockdown in March, ranging from bakeries to prominent diners. Here is a list of restaurants in New York City that have closed and filed for bankruptcy since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.
1. The Paris Cafe
The South Street Seaport landmark that has survived the severe from Hurricane Sandy and has been open since 1873, The Paris Café permanently closed in May.
“Through no fault of anyone but the outbreak of this virus we are unable to forge a way forward that makes economic sense. We had no option but to close our doors,” the owners said on their Facebook page.
2. Lucky Strike
One of the oldest members in the Keith McNally collection of French-American bistros Lucky Strike closed permanently after serving in Soho for over 30 years.
McNally said that it was difficult to economically sustain the restaurant due to COVID-19 and that he couldn’t find a financial way out of it to keep the restaurant running.
3. Momofuku Nishi
The five-year restaurant Momofuku Nishi was already operating on a thin profit margin before being impacted by the pandemic, the company said in a statement. The restaurant didn’t open for takeout or delivery due to concerns about safety.
The restaurant said that and investments needed to resume safe operations were “significant,” including developing new personal protective equipment.
In efforts to keep their business afloat before closing, Momofuku Nishi negotiated with landlords for lower rent and changed the service model, but it couldn’t sustain the business with a lack of rent relief. In March, the restaurant launched the Momofuku Blutetape Fund to support the working teams through $400,000 in aid.
4. Houdini Kitchen Laboratory
Lauded by the New York Times as “one of the coolest spaces in the city,” Houdini Kitchen Laboratory closed by the end of August after serving for six years.
Their closure is attributed to COVID-19 and its impact on the restaurant industry that is “already suffering,” said owner Massimilano Bartoli said in a video.
5. Kurry Qulture
In July, Astoria-based Indian restaurant Kurry Qulture announced that it will close for good after serving for five years. Owner Sonny Solomon said that he was unable to sustain his business under COVID-19 restrictions as the restaurant heavily relied on its indoor dining.
The restaurant was offering takeout services earlier in the lockdown, but it didn’t generate enough revenue to keep the business afloat, according to Solomon.
6. Pepper Lunch
The Japanese steakhouse Pepper Lunch permanently closed all of its New York City locations due to financial stress from COVID-19, reported Eater New York. On a letter hung up on their restaurant doors, the owners said that they considered all the ways that would help them reopen and “tried to approach the issue from every angle possible.”
Filed for Bankruptcy
1. Mr. Bing
The fast-casual Asian restaurant in New York City that specializes in Chinese street food, announced in August the closure of all six of its units. In April, the chain filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and owner Brian Goldberg told media that the chain was losing money since January when COVID-19 first began in Wuhan, China.
He said that his restaurant suffered from the bias that associated Asian restaurants with the virus long before many diners shut down due to the pandemic lockdowns. By the end of February, 40 staffers in all six locations were laid off. Mr. Bing had locations insider four college campuses’ dining halls and two locations in the city.
2. Fig & Olive
In July, the upscale restaurant Fig & Olive filed for bankruptcy protection after furloughing over 700 employees since March and reduced salaries, according to Bloomberg. The restaurant has locations in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, among others. Fig & Olive said on their website that they will temporarily close and will not offer delivery or pick-up service until "it is safe to do so."
In April, Alexis Blair, CEO, joined TheStreet to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the restaurant industry and her thoughts on the $2 trillion stimulus package.
3. Le Pain Quotidien
The operator of 98 Le Pain Quotidien restaurants, filed for bankruptcy in May. The Belgian-based bakery chain said it will sell off the U.S. arm for $3 million to Aurify Brands. The purchase will allow 35 of its 98 U.S. restaurants to reopen but more than two-thirds of its restaurants will permanently close. Few locations remain open in New York at Upper Westside and East Side Manhattan.
The Restaurant Industry
On September 14, the National Restaurant Association reported that around 100,000 restaurants are currently closed either permanently or long-term. The association also said that around 3 million employees in the industry lost their jobs.
The foodservice lost $165 billion in revenues during the period between March and July and is expected to lose nearly $240 billion in sales by the end of the year, according to the association’s estimates. With consumer spending going below normal levels, overall sales fell 34% on average in August.