NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Help may be on the way for restaurants and small businesses struggling in the city. A series of bills passed the City Council on Wednesday afternoon, promising some relief.
It has been a nightmare for restaurant owners like Gabriel Stulman. Their once-bustling establishments have been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Stulman’s worries go way beyond the potential of just going out of business.
“Don’t let me also live with the added fear that losing my business isn’t sufficient. I might also lose my personal bank account. It’s literally inhumane,” Stulman told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
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Stulman said he is concerned some of his landlords may go after his personal assets, due to a clause in his commercial leases.
The City Council, however, is looking to change that.
A new bill would temporarily suspend personal liability provisions for businesses impacted by COVID-19.
“This nightmare scenario keeps small business owners up at night,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
It’s part of a package of coronavirus relief bills that were voted on Wednesday to help city restaurants and businesses.
One would require the city to waive consent fees until next February for already established sidewalk cafes. Another tackles third-party delivery fees during states of emergency when dining in restaurants is banned.
It would cap fees at 15% per order for delivery and 5% for other charges.
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Melba Wilson, the owner of Melba’s in Harlem, told Grymes it’s much needed.
“Delivery fees being 30% were killings this business. They were killing my business. They were killing so many small businesses,” Wilson said.
But delivery service Grubhub said this will not withstand a legal challenge, adding it would “… lower order volume to locally-owned restaurants, increase costs for small business owners, and raise costs on customers.”
A spokesperson said Mayor Bill de Blasio supports all of this legislation, but there was no immediate word on when he’ll sign it.