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'Teetering On Survival:' New York City Restaurants Mark 1 Year Since COVID Restrictions Started

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tuesday marks the one year anniversary COVID restrictions shut down New York restaurants to in-person dining.

For many businesses, the impact has been devastating.

But as CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reports, some owners say they have hope for a full recovery.

Exactly one year ago today, COVID-19 restriction forced Hold Fast in Hell's Kitchen to shut its doors to in-person diners. The pub only only reopened for takeout more than a month later.

"It was scary. There was no one around, like a scene out of a movie," said owner Shane Hathaway.

RELATED: Over 90% Of Restaurants, Bars, Nightlife Venues Surveyed By NYC Hospitality Alliance Couldn't Afford Rent In December

In the months that followed, outdoor dining returned, followed eventually by indoor.

Hathaway calls the last year a rollercoaster.

"If we weren't able to receive any kind of funding or help from our generous landlord, we couldn't have survived," Hathaway said.

Many restaurants weren't as lucky. The Hourglass Tavern and Bettibar closed its doors for good in September. Owner Beth Sheinis calls losing her business of 11 years devastating.

"We came in on a pandemic and went out on a recession," Sheinis said. "They were very small spaces, so for us the logistics were impossible to do it on a minimized way."

The New York City Hospitality Alliance says there are about 25,000 bars and restaurants in New York City alone. Recent estimates have found about 5,000 of those have closed in the past year.

The group says more government funding and a rapid but safe vaccine rollout is key to ensure more restaurants do not follow suit.

"We have a lot of businesses teetering on survival, so it's not too late to correct any wrongs and support our local small businesses," said Andrew Rigie, executive director with the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

The Alliance says the one silver lining is that restaurants across the state can boost indoor dining capacity on Friday. Junior's Restaurant agrees. The family owned business shut three of its four locations last March. They're now hoping to reopen by summer.

"We see New York coming back and in a big way," said Miles Ellis of Junior's. "We're really on looking forward and moving forward."

Many of these businesses say, in a year filled with challenges, there is now light at the end of the tunnel.


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