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Grand Central Terminal Restaurants Are Furious That MTA Is Forcing Them to Pay Rent

Plus, St. Patrick’s Day in NYC was a somber affair for the first time in decades

The main grand central terminal with a golden vaulted ceiling with green paint. Some people are seen walking inside the terminal.
Some restaurants inside Grand Central are complaining about being forced to pay rent at this time
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Grand Central restaurateurs say MTA is forcing them to pay rent, and they’re not happy about it

Some restaurants located within Grand Central Terminal are calling out the MTA for reminding them to pay rent despite a state-mandated shutdown on dining in at restaurants that’s currently in place due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the New York Post reports. The owner of cocktail bar the Campbell, Scott Gerber, tells the Post it’s “unconscionable” that a government agency is forcing tenants to pay while the restaurant industry is reeling from a government-required shutdown. The Campbell’s annual rent is $1 million.

The outrage follows just days after the MTA’s attempt to evict Art Bird and Whiskey Bar — the food hall spot owned by Lady Gaga’s dad Joe Germanotta — from the terminal for not paying rent. Germanotta refused to pay rent saying the station’s homeless population were depressing his business.

The reminder issued to businesses to pay rent was part a letter the MTA sent to GCT tenants writing that rules about keeping shops open for a certain amount of hours were suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Though the MTA would not specifically comment on the rent situation, a spokesperson issued the following statement:

“The MTA has waived the penalty for retail tenants operating fewer than the minimum hours required by lease agreements. We understand the challenges facing these businesses, and we urge the federal government to step up and provide assistance in its latest relief package.”

In other news

— St. Patrick’s Day — usually one of the biggest drinking days in the city — was a somber affair yesterday, with only a handful of bars remaining open for to-go orders.

New York Times critic Ligaya Mishan travels to Mirna’s Pupuseria in Flatbush for her latest Hungry City column. It’s one of many establishments in the city that straddle the line between market and restaurant and aren’t quite sure how they will survive the restrictions placed on the city’s restaurants right now.

— The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner looks at what the city’s residents are buying from grocery stores during the novel Coronavirus crisis.

— NYC strip club Die Happy Tonight is getting creative with the ongoing restaurant and bar shutdown offering virtual reality lap dances to its members.

— Here’s a rundown from a local tourism blog about the dramatic fall in sales since the beginning of March.

— Gothamist looks at how NYC’s bars are adapting to new state rule that allows customers to take alcohol to go.

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