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Coronavirus Pandemic Posing Serious Challenges To Restaurants Struggling To Survive Or Reopen

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Restaurants have taken a hard hit since the onset of the coronavirus.

While some are slowly opening their doors back up for delivery, they're facing some challenges.

Transitioning from dine-in sales to just takeout and delivery has been the hardest part for a business like Enoteca On Court have reopened after closing due to COVID-19. Marco Chirico is the owner.

"It's tough staffing-wise, inventory-wise, plus income versus expenses to what you usually make. A lot of adjustments," Chirico told CBS2's Charlie Cooper.


He says Enoteca, like other restaurants, reopened to use up their inventory, but also for the sake of their employees.

"Our employees are like family. To see them stay home and not get an income or not do anything, it's tough," Chirico said.

"It's really a service to their beloved communities. They know New Yorkers need food and they're trying to keep as many people employed as possible. But not long term, it's not sustainable," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

Rigie says one of the biggest challenges restaurants are facing involves third-party apps.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Companies like GrubHub and Seamless that have been exploiting them during the crisis, charging fees anywhere from 15-30% of each order which they couldn't afford before the crisis, and certainly when we're in the midst of this pandemic it makes the issue more and more difficult," Rigie said.

"You're not making any income on a 15% the subtotal of all your deliveries. And that's the only thing you're getting is deliveries," said Chirico.

To help combat this, the New York City Council is looking to ban food delivery apps from charging high fees during a government-ordered state of emergency. A hearing on capping delivery fees at no more than 10% is set for this week.

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"Many businesses can barely stay open now. The 10% will allow them to hang on a little bit longer while we're in the midst of this pandemic. We need federal, state and city policies that are going to help with a cash infusion into these businesses now and then when they're ready to fully reopen," Rigie said.

And when that time comes, these owners say the biggest support the public can give them is simply by eating out.

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