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The $900 Billion Stimulus Isn’t the ‘Life Vest’ Brooklyn Restaurateurs Hoped For

Plus, Manhattan’s number of chain restaurants continues to decline this year — and more intel

New York City Restaurants Face Continued Uncertainty Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Brooklyn restaurant owners call for a bailout, despite impending stimulus

Congress is poised to pass a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill this week, but restaurant and bar owners in Brooklyn say the proposed stimulus is not the lifeline they needed. “We need a bailout, that’s what we need,” says Ivy Mix, owner of Carroll Gardens cocktail bar Leyenda, in an interview with the Brooklyn Paper. “We need a life vest, and we are not getting it.” While the bill includes provisions for expanded unemployment and more flexible Paycheck Protection Program loans, Mix tells the Brooklyn Paper that the hospitality industry needs a bill “specifically made to support independent bars and restaurants.”

In his analysis of the bill, Eater critic Ryan Sutton argues that the forthcoming stimulus “mostly fails” New York’s restaurants and workers, mostly because it does not offer the hospitality industry any significant targeted aid. The airline industry — which has shed more than 140,000 workers during the pandemic — will receive $16 billion in assistance through the proposed stimulus. No such clause exists for the nation’s hospitality industry, however, which has shuttered thousands of restaurants and shed an estimated 130,000 jobs in New York alone.

Restaurateurs in Brooklyn and elsewhere continue to call on elected officials to pass the RESTAURANTS Act, a bill that earmarks $120 billion in targeted aid for restaurants and bars with fewer than 20 locations. The bill may be reconsidered when President-elect Joe Biden introduces his stimulus plan next year, according to Sutton.

In other news

— The number of chain stores in New York City declined by 13.3 percent this year, led by chain restaurants like Baskin-Robbins, Dig, and Pret A Manger, which each shuttered more than 15 locations in 2020. Two of the only restaurant chains to expand during this time — Popeyes and Nathan’s Famous — opened eleven and eight locations, respectively, this year.

— Countless restaurants are planning takeout and delivery specials for dining at home on New Year’s Eve. We have our eye on these set dinners from Hand Hospitality, the restaurant group behind Atomix and Atoboy, along with this luxe cocktail package from East Village bar Death & Co.

— Commission-free ordering platform ChowNow is letting restaurants use its services for free until May 2021. The app typically charges participating restaurants a flat, monthly subscription fee regardless of order volume.

— The Breaking Bread Fundraiser is raising money to feed “communities facing oppression, inequality, and food insecurity” this winter. As part of the effort, restaurants like Fat Choy, Hunky Dory, Ursula, and Café Kitsuné are offering specials that support the fundraiser.

— Earlier this month, employees at a Washington Heights Chipotle reported they were receiving bites from an infestation of rats. They’re not the only location in New York City with a rat problem, Jacobin reports this week.

— We’re listening:

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