NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new survey says more than 80% of restaurants and bars in the Big Apple couldn’t pay their rent in July.

Melba’s in Harlem looked busy on Monday, and it was. But owner Melba Wilson said looks can be deceiving when it comes to profits right now.

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“It’s different when you have a 109-seat restaurant and now we have 68 seats, which we’re really, really grateful for. However, it’s not the same,” Wilson told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.

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Bad weather can also ruin a day. Some people are still reluctant to dine out and the catering side to the business is suffering.

Wilson estimates revenue is down about 60% from this time last year.

“We have not paid July’s rent, no. It’s very, very difficult,” Wilson said.


Of 500 establishments asked, 83% of restaurants and bars could not pay full rent in July and 37% paid no rent at all. That’s according to a survey by the NYC Hospitality Alliance which Wilson is president.

“We are really facing a crisis here among our small businesses,” executive director Andrew Rigie said. “Only 1 in 10 restaurants were able to renegotiate their current leases so far which means a lot of these businesses are not going to be able to survive.”

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Rigie said he understands landlords have mortgages and property taxes to pay, so right now they’re hoping the federal government steps in with another round of the Paycheck Protection Program.

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“There’s also a bill called the Restaurant Act, which would give $120 billion worth of grants to local restaurants,” Rigie said.

“I mean, there are a lot of vacant storefronts, which we all know, but a lot of places that I knew were restaurants and they’re gone,” Upper West Side resident Vivian Awner said.

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Coming off of months of takeout only and with no indoor dining allowed still, many are struggling to make it work.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday the Open Restaurants Program — dining out in curb lanes and on the sidewalks — will continue next year, Gainer reported.

More than 9,000 restaurants have signed up for the program, which has helped, but many wonder if they’ll even make it to next year.

“What’s going to happen in November when it gets cold?” Wilson wondered.

A lot of jobs are on the line for owners and workers and it trickles down to vendors, too.

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Outdoor dining runs through Oct. 31. It will return on June 1 of next year.