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Economy ∙ COVID Recovery ∙ Jobs

It’s Time to Bring Bars, Restaurants and Hospitality Venues Back to Life

The last year has been tough for almost all businesses, but New York’s world class restaurants, bars and nightlife establishments have been hit especially hard. It is estimated that as many as 5,000 bars and restaurants have already closed and an audit conducted by the State Comptroller, the next year could see as many as one-third of NYC’s bars and restaurants shutter, resulting in the loss of as many as 12,000 city restaurant jobs and 159,000 industry jobs. Restaurants and hospitality venues are crucial to the revitalization of our local economies and rebuilding the vibrancy of our neighborhoods. In 2019, NYC’s restaurant industry had 23,650 establishments, provided 317,800 jobs and paid $10.7 billion in total wages in addition to nearly $27 billion in taxable sales. But these establishments are still being hampered by nonsensical pandemic-era regulations. Andrew Yang is calling on the state legislature and the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to do right by NYC’s cherished bars and restaurants by removing bureaucratic obstacles in their way. 

Allow for temporary liquor licenses to be granted to businesses in NYC, the same standard as the rest of the state.

According to recent reporting in the NY Post, under current law, new or revived restaurants and pubs outside of new York City can obtain a temporary liquor permit within 30 days, while the State Liquor Authority reviews an applicant’s request for full license-- a process that could take anywhere from four to six months. Yet NYC establishments are not eligible for a temporary liquor license. Allowances being made in some parts of the state should be applied in NYC as well. This is especially in an industry where alcohol sales make up 30-40% of revenue and preventing businesses from accessing a liquor license could be a death knell. Allowing for temporary licensure for NYC establishments while they await their full license will enable these venues to reopen their doors, re-hire their staff and contribute to our local economy. An establishment would only get a temporary license after meeting with their local Community Board, meaning there is no threat of circumventing local safeguards and the SLA would still retain its enforcement power. Andrew Yang encourages the SLA to make NYC bars and restaurants eligible for temporary liquor licenses and supports state legislation sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Inez Dickens and supported by industry groups, such as the NYC Hospitality Alliance, to do just that.  

Allow bars and restaurants to serve customers alcoholic beverages without having to order food.

In July 2020, the Governor passed Executive Order 202.52, in which all licensed establishments with on premises privileges (e.e. Restaurants, taverns, manufacturers with tasting rooms, etc.) shall not serve alcoholic beverages unless such alcoholic beverage is accompanied by the purchase of a food item. The order was originally intended to prevent rowdy customers from laxing on social distancing regulations, but it has harmed establishments that do not have kitchens, disincentivized diners from patroning some bars, and put added costs on these venues. In a world in which more and more people are being vaccinated each day and eateries continue to uphold strict social distancing and other safety measures, it is time for this pandemic-era regulation to be revoked. 

Allow seating at a bar for patrons in NYC, the same standard as for the rest of the state.

According to the SLA, currently bar/counter seating is not permitted at all in NYC, despite patrons from the same party being permitted to sit next to each other in bar areas or at communal tables outside of the five boroughs. The SLA should apply the same rules to NYC bars as those that apply in other parts of the state and permit seating at bars and countertops immediately.

Get rid of the arbitrary closing curfew.

Enabling bars and restaurants to stay open till midnight, extended from 11 PM was a step in the right direction, but this curfew is still arbitrary. By forcing safe, socially distanced establishments to close, we are pushing partygoers into their homes where the virus can go unchecked. Instead, it is time to allow bars and restaurants to stay open to 4 AM, like before the pandemic.

Read more about Andrew Yang’s plan for a strong recovery for NYC bars, restaurants and eating establishments.