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NYC Restaurateurs Renew Calls for Rent Relief As End of Eviction Moratorium Looms

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With the moratorium on evictions set to end August 20, there’s growing concern for restaurants’ survival

The inside of a restaurant with chairs and tables that have been covered in plastic wrapping
Restaurant owners have renewed calls for rent relief
Gary He/Eater

New York restaurant owners are renewing calls for longterm rent relief in the face of the existing moratorium on evictions set to expire on August 20. Earlier today, some restaurant owners and other small business owners got together with state senator Michael Gianaris, who represents parts of Queens, at a press conference, to press Gov. Andrew Cuomo for rent assistance.

In March, Gianaris introduced a bill in the state senate that would cancel rent for small businesses and individuals for 90 days, and cancel mortgage payments for landlords for the same duration. Still, five months later, the bill has yet to be passed, and restaurant owners are growing increasingly concerned about mounting unpaid rent.

“We have done everything we can for the past four months to stay afloat, but we are running out of lifelines and desperately need our government to take action,” Roseann McSorley, the owner of Astoria gastropub Katch, said at the press conference this morning.

The renewed falls for action follow an alarming report released by the NYC Hospitality Alliance — which represents thousands of restaurants in the city — which showed that nearly 40 percent of the 500 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs the group surveyed were unable to pay any rent in July. More than 80 percent were unable to pay full rent, according to the report, and it followed on heels of more concerning news from June, when roughly the same percentage of owners couldn’t pay full rent.

For the past few months, several owners have relied on the payments they received from the federal coronavirus-related relief fund for small business owners, the Paycheck Protection Program. While new guidelines introduced over the summer allowed owners to contribute more of the loan toward rent, the PPP funds will soon dry up, and the federal government has yet to reach an agreement on a new coronavirus stimulus package.

In light of that, and the fact that indoor dining — the major source of income for most restaurants — isn’t likely to return anytime soon, calls to move forward on some type of legislation or relief are growing.

“If we don’t provide immediate relief to these mom and pop neighborhood institutions, they are unlikely to survive and the character of our city will change for the worse,” Gianaris said in a statement.