A recent National Restaurant Association survey found that the majority of restaurant owners say business conditions are worse than three months ago.
An increase in restaurant reopens over the summer has stalled, in part due to the increase in cases of the Delta variant virus in parts of the country. The city has also seen restaurants struggle to weather the latest blow.
New York restaurateur and culinary master Michael Lomonaco describes firsthand the main obstacles the Delta variant posed to recovery.
Behind the doors of Lomonoco’s Hudson Yards Grill is something the epicurean and foodie alike are looking for – the ability to be back in the kitchen after the restaurant closes for 18 months due to COVID-19. And to be once again on the ground, bring that magical touch that its regular guests expect.
The native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn has revealed he was heartbroken when he had to lay off hundreds of employees at his establishments at the start of the pandemic.
The possibility of having reopened at the end of September was, according to Lomonaco, an accomplishment, but he is not oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead.
“Okay let me give it to you this way. All the Broadway shows are reopening at the same time. They’ve got most of their casts back. I’m pretty sure they are. Here you have the music industry. catering, with everyone reopening at the same time, ”explained Lomonaco. “We’ve never seen this before, where 10,000 restaurants all open in the same short time and have to hire staff. hospitality. But never have so many operations needed to hire so many at the same time. That was the biggest challenge. “
Lomonaco is delighted to be back with its key team. But says COVID-19 literally got in the way of pre-pandemic profitability. Besides understaffing, he believes soaring food prices and supply shortages are ongoing short-term challenges.
In addition to industry problems, customer demand remains low. This is something Hudson Yards Grill has also known, as its Hudson Yards home still faces limitations, including attractions and store closures.
Lomonaco, however, remains resilient, believing in a key ingredient to survival.
“It starts with positivity, knowing that you can do it again and you can do it again. Staying fresh and giving yourself an opportunity is the key to success,” said Lomonaco.
Despite this optimism, the bridge is stacked.
The National Restaurant Association expects consumer demand to be depressed in the last quarter. And 51% of restaurants say they cannot pay their rent in September.
Rising commodity prices, inflationary pressures and supply chain challenges only add to the immediate challenges already struggling restaurants face during the all-important holiday season ahead.