Restaurants, wrecked by the pandemic, try creative ways to stay open.
The pandemic has spared almost no business in New York City. Some have thrived, like liquor stores. But no industry has been clobbered like restaurants and bars, a multibillion-dollar lifeblood that gives the city vibrancy and diversity, employs hundreds of thousands of people, including many immigrants, and attracts millions of tourists every year.
From Michelin-starred fine dining to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the industry brings in about $46 billion annually in sales and pays out about $10 billion in wages to employees, according to the state.
Many restaurants have blamed their landlords for not reducing their rent. But landlords say they are suffering, too, unable to pay their own bills because tenants cannot pay full rent.
To understand the pandemic’s impact on restaurants, The New York Times took a close look at Gertie, which opened in February 2019 and was finalizing a makeover when the virus hit. (Gertie’s landlord has cut its base rent by 50 percent, down to $5,000 a month, and offered to extend the discount, which included a separate increase in rent payments based on Gertie’s percentage of sales, for another 16 months.)
“Every restaurant has become a shell of a restaurant, like nothing is noticeable inside,” said Nate Adler, an owner Gertie. “Nothing is being used the way that it’s supposed to be used or the way that it was initially intended, and that’s just a hard pill to swallow.”
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