Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Clock is ticking for NYC restaurants even as outdoor dining resumes  

Bedford Manor Restaurant in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, may not survive the pandemic.

Bedford Manor, a popular bar and restaurant located in Brooklyn’s BedStuy neighborhood, only has a month or two left. With leather chairs, a hidden room behind a bookcase, and red velvet curtains, the popular spot has had a successful run since 2010, but might soon join the growing list of restaurants that close for good due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

 The three-month shutdown and precipitous fall in revenue have clobbered the business, which before the pandemic averaged around $100,000 in sales each month.   

“The money I am making now is 8% of what I was making before the pandemic,” said owner James Daniel, who reopened his once-thriving restaurant two weeks ago.   

Social distancing efforts have devastated New York City’s restaurant industry but the crisis is just beginning. Outdoor dining reopens on Monday with the start of Phase 2, but experts still expect to see a wave of closures in the coming months as government aid efforts fail to meet the needs of these businesses.  

 Two-thirds of restaurant owners said in a survey that they would need a 70 % occupancy rate in order to reopen and survive, according to the non-profit NYC Hospitality Alliance. 

 It’s the smaller, independent eateries that are suffering the most. Local bars and restaurants lack the financing options available to large chains that can tap bank loans and investors for more cash.  

 In April, the federal government introduced a $349 billion forgivable loan package called the Paycheck Protection Program to give “mom and pop” shops emergency funds. But less than 20% of requests by small businesses were approved in New York state by May, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.   

 But even those that do receive the money find it coming up short. 

 Daniel said he received a $25,000 loan for Bedford Manor under the PPP, and a $10,000 loan from the Small Business Administration.  

  That’s $35,000, which I used to make in a week before March,said Daniel. “I pay $10,000 monthly rent and I don’t even make even a fraction of it. How long can I survive? Maybe another 6 weeks.”   

 Daniel had 13 employees before the pandemic and now has only two.   

 Bedford Manor isn’t alone. New York City has about 26,000 restaurants that employed 169,000 people through February, but employment has since fallen to only 21,000 in April 

 Laura Gemelli, 36, lost her job at ilili Restaurant in Flatiron after it halted operations in March. 

 “I am surviving on my unemployment benefit, but how long? The restaurant won’t hire in full capacity when they have no customers,” Gemelli said.   

 Some restaurant advocacy groups like Independent Restaurant Coalition are pushing Congress to sign a new $120 billion relief package to salvage the industry. The National Restaurant Association, a powerful lobbying group, has called for Congress to provide $240 billion in urgent relief directly to restaurants.  

 “The government must give another package,” Daniel said, adding that he is afraid customers won’t return due to fear of the virus. 

Fred Jackson, the manager at Mo’s Fort Greene, bar and lounge in Brooklyn, said he applied for a PPP loan but never received any funds. He hopes that when outdoor dining reopens on Monday, enough customers will return to bring the business back to life.  

 “If they don’t come, we can’t survive for more than three months,” Jackson said 


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020