clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NYC Restaurants ‘Slower’ to Bounce Back Than Rest of Country, New Report Says

Plus, Mayor Adams vows to cut fines and ‘red tape’ facing restaurant owners — and more intel

Tables are spread out in the dining room of Junior’s Cheesecake in Brooklyn.
Restaurants in the five boroughs still employ roughly 30 percent fewer people than before the pandemic.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A new report from the New York State Comptroller’s office offers a look at the lasting impact of the pandemic on local restaurants and bars. The report, which covers November 2019 to 2021, finds that NYC restaurants still employ roughly 30 percent fewer people than before the pandemic. When combined with losses in retail and recreation, the three sectors account for roughly 9 percent of the jobs lost across the country since the start of the pandemic, according to Gothamist.

“New York City was hit first, hit hardest, and we are slower to recover than other parts of the country,” Comptroller Tom DiNapoli tells the publication. “And because we had such outsized losses, it is a significant part of the national drop in employment.”

Restaurant, retail, and recreation businesses that employed between 5 and 49 employees were especially hard hit: Close to 2,000 mid-size restaurants permanently closed between November 2019 and 2021, according to Crain’s New York Business. However, there’s been at least one positive uptick over the same period: The total number of smaller restaurants operating in the city — those employing fewer than five people — has increased overall.

Mayor Adams vows to cut restaurant fines and ‘red tape’

Mayor Eric Adams signed an executive order this week targeted at reducing the number of fines faced by small businesses and allowing for more flexibility after first-time violations. The order, which was announced in the same speech that Adams referred to cooks as “low skill workers” who “don’t have the academic skills to sit in a corner office,” has tasked a half-dozen city agencies — including the departments of Sanitation, Health and Mental Hygiene, and others — with reviewing the violations that result in their highest number of summonses and fines for possible reform.

Permanent takeout cocktails a ‘lifesaver’ for Brooklyn bars

Brooklyn bar owners responded with cautious optimism to news that Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to make the state’s takeout cocktail program permanent. The “need for it is now,” Sage Geyer, who owns Bar Meridian in Prospect Heights, tells Brooklyn Magazine, though it’s still not clear when restaurateurs can expect to see the policy. According to Tim Racine, the owner of Young Ethels in South Slope, “...Every new ‘hey, we’re gonna help your bar survive’ has also brought with it one or more ‘this state or city agency will fine you a thousand bucks for not following their confusing and sometimes contradictory rules.”

Don’t miss this smash burger and fried chicken pop-up

Smash burgers and fried chicken will share a stage this weekend at Lower East Side bar Ray’s. Starting at 1 p.m. this Saturday, January 8, pop-up restaurants Gotham Burger Social Club and Honey Bunny’s Kitchen will be grilling out of the space, serving burgers, biscuits, oysters, and onion rings. Online bake shop Gracie Baked will be set up at the bar, as well.