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City restaurants need financial relief if another dining shutdown is on the horizon, expert says

Posted at 11:19 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 23:19:56-05

KIPS BAY, Manhattan — As parents of New York City public school students got reacquainted Thursday with the reality of returning to all-remote learning, many asked the question circling around New York City for the past day or so: what about the city’s bars, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses? Why are they open? Would they shut down, too?

By Thursday afternoon, entrepreneurs like Gaurav Anand — owner of Bhatti Indian Grill on Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue — had their answer straight from Mayor Bill de Blasio

The news is not encouraging for people like Anand: closures could be coming as soon as next week.

"I personally think, if [the city] does a second shutdown, 15% of restaurants will go out of business," Anand said. "I know, for sure. It's just a matter of time before indoor dining will close, and other types of things: gyms, other things. It's just a matter of time."

But Anand warns the mayor’s sudden announcements are not helpful, and hopes these decisions will be followed by swift assistance to the business community.

"The only way we can navigate this is — we hope that he lets us do our deliveries," Anand said. "That's the only survival. And there is no other way."

The clock is ticking.

Melissa Fleischut, president & CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said Anand's estimate of 15% closures of city restaurants could very well be on the low side.

"They're struggling so much right now," she sad. "And it's not going to be resolved quickly. I know the last survey that we did at the end of August said that 64% of the restaurants that we surveyed didn't expect to make it to January 2021 without additional federal relief."