New York restaurant house owners waive their wages year-round and battle to remain open three days per week
Thomas Casatelli, who runs four restaurants in New York City, including Ho’Brah, says restaurant owners in the city are “very concerned” about how long the next closure will be.
Two New York City restaurant co-owners who have poured their savings into the business fear they will not be able to survive the coronavirus pandemic without financial support.
Bobby Digi and Lisa McFarland, owners of O’Henry’s Publick House on Staten Island, told FOX Business that closing down has become an “everyday fear”. Now that the indoor dining has been disrupted, they said their future is unimaginable.
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Even after Digi and McFarland foregoing their own salaries earlier this year, they said they still have to lay off half of their employees and reduce their operating hours to just three days a week to stay afloat.
“We’re shortening days when sales don’t guarantee we’ll stay open. This will reduce overhead and help us stay afloat longer,” said Digi, adding that they were trying to save as much money as possible, while they “hobble”. “
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Owners remembered applying for more loans and grants than they can “count” to help them at this unprecedented time. However, Digi said that every motion “has hit a dead end”.
Until last week, the restaurant was open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, serving 20 people inside and 30 people outside. With indoor eating banned since Monday, they fear they may have to close completely in winter.
O’Henry’s Publick House on Staten Island (Bobby Digi)
As of this week, indoor dining has been suspended across the city and restaurants have been forced to rely on outdoor seating, takeout and delivery services. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made it clear that if hospital stay rates in the area did not stabilize after five days, indoor dining would be completely closed.
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The governor has repeatedly expressed concern about rising case rates and hospital stays, which could overwhelm the healthcare system for the second time.
“In the meantime, we’re using the laser to focus on making sure the surge in cases we’re seeing doesn’t overwhelm our hospital system and we’re introducing layoffs to prop them up,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The governor also noted that the Staten Island district already accounts for about 25% of COVID-19 deaths in New York City and that the situation across the state could get worse before it gets better.
However, Digi and McFarland said “it was a nightmare” to keep up with any restrictions.
Even in the colder months they do not believe that they can even use their external setup. An investment that reportedly cost them thousands of dollars.
“We went through seven tents because of the weather,” said McFarland. “It was like the ‘Wizard of Oz’. The tents made a full 360.”
Both owners said they are considering switching to take-out and delivery services, despite considering the idea of shutting down all of January.
“We don’t see any way forward,” said Digi.
And Digi and McFarland aren’t the only ones fearing the fate of their business.
Around 61% of restaurant and bar owners in the US said they won’t even be able to make December rentals, according to Alignable.
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