NEW YORK CITY — The shaky ground under New York City’s restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic could still give way in the next six months and shutter half the city’s establishments, a new state audit warned.
“At the high end, that could result in a permanent loss of nearly 12,000 of the City’s restaurants and bars, and nearly 159,000 industry jobs, although the opening of new restaurants would mitigate some of these losses,” the audit issued by Thomas DiNapoli, the state’s comptroller, states.
The audit — “The Restaurant Industry in New York City: Tracking the Recovery” — presents a bleak future for the city’s eateries if recent and future government action fails to stabilize the industry.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the record high number of jobs — 317,800 — and number of establishments — 23,650 — reached in 2019, according to the audit.
A blink of the eye in March brought forward sweeping lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures that wiped out those records.
By April, restaurant employment dropped to 91,000 jobs, according to the audit.
Things have picked up since then — there were 174,000 restaurant jobs by August as outdoor dining took hold across the city, the study found.
But it’s too early to tell the long-term impact of measures like the city’s Open Restaurants and Open Streets program, along with the recent resurrection of indoor dining, DiNapoli’s audit states. It notes roughly 90 percent of restaurants struggled to pay at least of portion of rent in August.
Restaurants need support on commercial lease assistance, takeout and delivery operations and other measures if they are to survive, the audit found.
“In addition, the availability of loan and grant funds, both directly from the City and through the facilitation of State and federal grants, should support bridging the economic-activity gap faced
by establishments, particularly in the City’s hardest hit areas,” the audit states.
Read the whole audit here.
This article originally appeared on the New York City Patch