Survey reveals alarming data regarding restaurant industry

Social-distancing measures are in place for outdoor seating at Hoak's Restaurant. June 4, 2020 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)
Photo credit Social-distancing measures are in place for outdoor seating at Hoak's Restaurant. June 4, 2020 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

BUFFALO (WBEN) - The New York State Restaurant Association recently released a survey that shows rather alarming results: nearly two-thirds of restaurants say they are likely to close by the end of the year if they don't receive financial assistance.

“It is painfully clear that without financial assistance, the restaurant industry in New York State could collapse,” said Melissa Fleischut, President & CEO of NYSRA. “These recent survey results illustrate just how dire the financial situation has become for most restaurants, and it shows how critical it is that elected officials understand the urgency of the situation.”

In March, NYSRA reported that in a three-week span, New York restaurants saw an estimated loss of $1.9 billion in sales and more than 250,000 jobs. In April, NYSRA found that 80% of New York’s restaurant workforce had been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of March, totaling 527,000 jobs.

Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo called the survey results "tragic" but "not surprising."

"I am a big champion of the Western New York restaurant culinary scene," said Lorigo. "To lose some of the great restaurants would be devastating."

The legislature's Republican minority caucus has proposed legislation that would provide $22 million of CARES Act funding as relief for small businesses in Erie County and of course, some of the qualifying businesses would be restaurants.

Under the proposed legislation, qualifying businesses would receive between $5,000 and $20,000. 

"It will help, and right now, every little bit will help, so I don't want to discourage anyone from thinking that it's not a good idea," she began. "Is it the saving grace, the silver bullet? No - no one thing is going to be the saving grace right now.

Fleischut said they've been trying to pressure the federal government for relief the most due to the economic hardships that local and state governments are facing. 

"We've asked for the restaurant-specific recovery fund - we have a partner at the national level, the National Restaurant Association, that we work with, and a dedicated restaurant recovery fund is something we've asked for," said Fleischut. "If they don't feel they can do something industry-specific, although we're making a strong case for why we need it, additional PPP funding, a second round for those who received it, the EIDL program to be refunded, or additional grant programs, not so much loan programs that have to be paid back because there's a concern that we'll be in a position where we won't be able to pay them back, but grant programs and funding directly to the restaurants is what's desperately needed right now."

According to a previous survey, when asked what government could do to help restaurants survive the pandemic, the top-three answers were:
  • Provide commercial rent relief
  • Insist that business interruption insurance claims are paid
  • Increase the capacity for indoor dining