NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a harsh reality. The coronavirus pandemic is doing a number on local economies.
On Thursday, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a new report that shows how many restaurants and bars in the city may never recover.
On Victory Boulevard in the Castleton Corners section of Staten Island, businesses struggle and close and the just-released findings of a government audit indicate it will get worse between now and April, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
From furloughs and layoffs to businesses forever closed, government COVID-19 restrictions are choking the economy of New York City, especially its bars and restaurants.
An audit by the state comptroller spells out what was feared — that the financial outlook for many is bleak. It finds up to 50% of Big Apple bars and restaurants could close permanently within the next six months.
“Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many to close forever,” DiNapoli said.
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Aki Iliopoulos, owner of the Staten Island Diner, said he works seven days a week. He said he’s now able to bring some customers indoors, but not enough.
“Twenty five percent is not going to cut it. That’s 15 people in here,” Iliopoulos said, adding he normally has 60. “It’s in the negative. Every day, we’re in the negative.”
He’s hardly the only business owner in this precarious position.
“Twenty five percent was a great start. It will not sustain the business. It will not sustain the industry,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President Tom Grech said.
“It’s in my blood to just fight, fight until you have nothing else to fight about,” Iliopoulos added.
Chef Rob Libertella said his is a lifeblood industry, which contributes $27 billion in taxable sales last year.
“We will rebound. Unfortunately, some things will not,” Libertella said.
Pushing it to the brink hurts everyone.
“I’m a food service chef and I do events such as Super Bowl XLVIII, couple of World Series, but without having fans in the stands our revenue is down about 85%. This is going to have a ripple effect throughout economy,” Libertella said.
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Business owners are demanding more federal funding — grants and loans — and from the city and the state even more of a relaxing of the restrictions.
“We as the leaders in government owe it to them to use this report and make sure that we are passing legislation, that we are pushing the mayor and every single elected to do their job,” Assembly member Catalina Cruz said.
Many owners said opening up indoor restaurant seating to 50% capacity, which the Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested could happen in about a month, would help, but even that might not be enough.
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