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Nearly 40 Percent of NYC Restaurants Didn’t Pay Any Rent in July, Survey Says

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The NYC Hospitality Alliance recently surveyed 471 establishments in the city and found more than 80 percent did not pay full rent

Inside an empty restaurant with seats turned up and placed on tables
NYC restaurants are still unable to make rent several months into the pandemic
Gary He/Eater

The latest report on how NYC restaurants and bars are faring with rent bears some grim news: 83 percent of surveyed establishments weren’t able to make full rent in July. Worse still, a little over 37 percent of restaurants weren’t able to pay rent at all, according to the survey, which was published by the NYC Hospitality Alliance today.

The group — which represents thousands of restaurants in the city — surveyed 471 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs between July 15 and July 28, to create the report.

There are some upsides — if minor — in the report though. Of the restaurants surveyed, nearly 30 percent said their landlords had waived part of their rent — in a majority of cases, half the monthly rent had been waived.

While temporary rent reductions and deferrals have been easier to come by, renegotiating leases has been a lot harder, according to the report. Ninety percent of restaurants surveyed said they haven’t been able to renegotiate leases as a result of the pandemic just yet, though about 30 percent of them are currently in negotiations with their landlords.

Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants have been forced to close permanently due to fixed costs like rent payments. An existing moratorium on rent payments and evictions for commercial and residential tenants is set to expire on August 20, and with no end in sight to the current predicament for restaurants and bars, more closings could follow. Outdoor dining has boosted sales to a certain degree, but restaurants and bars still aren’t doing sales anywhere close to pre-pandemic levels.

While the federal coronavirus-related aid program for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program, is meant to help restaurants pay rent, those funds are now drying up, and the government has not reached a consensus on a new stimulus package. Legislative efforts at the state level have stalled as well, and the industry is likely to suffer more without any financial assistance.