New York restaurants under pressure

The New York restaurant industry has united with the city's Department of Small Business to form the NYC Food & Beverage Council as it tries to stem the pressure caused by astronomical rents, rising wages, and strict regulation

Last month, the city’s department of small business services launched the NYC Food & Beverage Council, joining together over 30 industry professionals and business to help support the industry’s growth.

The council’s goals include addressing the skills gap by promoting training, helping businesses navigate the regulatory environment, and to help businesses keep on top of industry trends.

The city’s culinary supremacy is under threat, a New York Times report last week showed that the number of independent restaurants in the city fell by 3% from March 2015 to March 2016, above the national average of 2.7%.

Of course, pressures on the sector aren’t limited to New York, nor just to smaller and independent retailers. According to the Wall Street Journal, openings have outstripped demand, growing faster than the population of the US between 2006 and 2014.

Though independents have been in decline across the US for two years, the Wall Street Journal said, industry pressures have started to reverberate across the restaurant market. And, with meal-kit delivery services, improved prepared meals putting traditional restaurants under pressure, the US saw three restaurant companies file for bankruptcy protection in a single week.

For New York, a city where the foodservice industry is one of its largest private sector employers – accounting for nearly a quarter-of-a-million jobs, intervention apparently couldn’t come soon enough.

Ahmass Fakahany, CEO & Owner, Altamarea Group, and one of the 30 board members, welcomed the “timely” intervention from the City.

“The industry has faced multiple and concurrent headwinds recently and partnering with the city to proactively address the impact of these headwinds is encouraging and welcome,” he said.

According to the New York Times report, which compared the pressures of the City’s restaurant industry with that of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the gripes of the restaurateurs are legitimate. It is more expensive to rent, to pay staff and to buy produce in New York.

Richard Coraine, the chief development officer of Danny Meyer’s Union Square hospitality group, told the Times that rising costs in New York are forcing the City’s future culinary stars out.

“People are leaving to find their dreams elsewhere,” the 35-year veteran of the New York industry told the paper. And, if ambitious young chefs approach him for advice, he doesn’t discourage them from doing just that.

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