The New York Times reports that national retailers and restaurant chains such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Le Pain Quotidien, and Subway are permanently closing locations in New York City in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a “mass exodus” of residents and businesses.
Business leaders warn that the city is facing a crisis of “historic proportions,” according to the Times.
Michael Weinstein, the chief executive of Ark Restaurants, which owns the popular Bryant Park Grill & Cafe, told the New York Times he would never open another restaurant in the city. “There’s no reason to do business in New York,” Weinstein said.
With tourists staying clear of the city and surrounding office towers mostly empty, the restaurant has been forced to close its 1,000-seat dining room and move service to the patio. As a result, Weinstein says the restaurant brings in only about $12,000 a day—an 85 percent drop in revenue.
The Times story highlights worrying signs that national brands are beginning to abandon the Big Apple and may never return. Chain restaurants including restaurants like Le Pain Quotidian, Subway, and Chipotle have seen big losses. Shake Shack reported a 40 percent decrease in revenue in the second quarter. Le Pain Quotidien has permanently closed several of its 27 stores in the city. Subway and retailers J.C Penney and Kate Spade have also closed their branches permanently.
The flagship Victoria’s Secret store at Herald Square in Manhattan has been closed for months and has not paid its $937,000 monthly rent in the meantime. “It will be years before retail has even a chance of returning to New York City in its pre-COVID form,” the retailer’s parent company recently told its landlord.
“In the prime real estate areas, all the stores rely on having half international tourists and half local tourists or those from the local neighborhoods,” said Thiago Hueb, a founder of a jewelry company whose product is sold in stores around the country. He had already decided to close his store on Madison Avenue before the pandemic struck because of high rents.
Hueb told the Times he has no interest in returning to the city.
“The avenue is no longer what it used to be,” he said.