NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the snowstorm coming and indoor dining suspended, the city’s restaurant workers and owners say they’re in a dire situation.

They rallied in Times Square Tuesday, demanding federal help.

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As CBS2’s Christina Fan reports, a massive crowd of restaurant owners, waiters, and waitresses gathered. Chopper 2 showed them marching on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Third Avenue, crying out for a comprehensive relief package. They represented only a fraction of the thousands of people impacted by the suffering industry and demanding a comprehensive relief package.

Randy Talbot, who runs Carmine’s on the Upper West Side, stepped away from a busy day at the restaurant to attend. Busy – not because he had too many customers – but because he’s scrambling to find ways to recover that lost revenue.

“This restaurant would have had 200 employees, we’re down to 30 employees. We’re doing everything possible,” he said.

The shutdown of indoor dining in New York City – followed by the suspension of outdoor dining due to impending snow – set an already fragile industry over the edge.

According to the New York City Hospitality Alliance. more than 1,000 restaurants have already closed in New York City. The few still employed waiters, like Eduardo Rosado, wake up every morning worried if it’s their turn to be let go.

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“Look at all the lights, it’s really joyous, really beautiful, and just to see someplace where I’ve been working the last five years looking like this? It’s just heartbreaking,” he said.

Those marching in the Super Tuesday Rally called on Congress to pass the Restaurants Act, which would grant $120 billion in relief to restaurants across the country. They say the Paycheck Protection Program is not sufficient.

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“PPP is just another loan, and quite frankly we can’t afford loans anymore,” said chef Tom Colicchio of Crafted Hospitality.

Without help, more business owners in the crowd say they will be driven to extinction.

Nearly 6,000 businesses have already closed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some establishments, including the Carnegie Club in Midtown, have chosen to shut down temporarily and reopen once the pandemic is over. Others, facing so many restrictions, have given up and called it quits completely.

“They’re not getting shut down because you didn’t like their burger or bowl of pasta. They’re being mandated by government to be shut. Now we need that same government to step up and give them support, so they can stand a chance at survival, especially during the holiday season,” said Andrew Rigie, of New York Hospitality Alliance.

“We’re not asking for handouts, but we’re asking for a bridge to get to the point where we can continue to operate, so when the economy turns around and when the pandemic starts to slow down, people will have jobs to come back to,” Colicchio added.

A recent report conducted by the industry found that two-thirds of New York restaurants will close in the next few months without any financial assistance.

About 88% of restaurants have been unable to pay full rent now for several months.


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Christina Fan contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team