New York restaurant seats fill up as operators face new spending

NEW YORK – Just minutes after Di An Di, a Vietnamese restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, opened on a recent night, seats quickly started to fill.

“Things are slowly returning to normal,” said Tuan Bui, co-owner of Di An Di in Brooklyn. “It’s kind of back to normal, but it’s in the new normal.”

The new normal for him: “The new normal is to face higher food costs,” Bui said. “We are seeing an increase of at least 25% in all areas of all food spending, due to transportation, due to supply chain issues. “


What would you like to know

  • Tuan Bui, co-owner of Di An Di in Brooklyn, says there are higher food costs and longer waits for deliveries
  • According to a New York State Restaurant Association survey, 67% of restaurants don’t expect business conditions to return to normal for at least a year.
  • 85% of restaurants surveyed saw drop in indoor dining due to increase in delta variant COVID-19 cases

Restaurants must deal with these issues in order to attract diners and survive.

“It’s a feeling of accommodation every day,” said Mimi Nguyen, an employee. “It’s a new challenge every day, I think.”

“We often face shortages from suppliers, and due to COVID, we are therefore running out of a lot of ingredients. Sometimes we have to replace it, trying to figure out how to match those flavor profiles with things that we can find here, ”said Dayvana San Miguel, another employee.

According to a New York State Restaurant Association survey, 67% of restaurants don’t expect business conditions to return to normal for at least a year, and 85% of restaurants have seen a drop in dining options. interior due to the increased number of cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Almost all of the restaurants surveyed – 93% – said there was a lower profit margin than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Restaurants operate with very low profit margins, if they are making money,” said Andrew Rigie, director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “And then all the pandemic shutdowns, the different demands – there’s just no way they can ever get all that money back to pay off all that debt. “

While Bui’s restaurant, which opened in 2019, remained open during the pandemic by switching to take-out, it had to close its other restaurant, An Choi on the Lower East Side, last year after 10 years of activity.

“Making the tough choice to put our resources in during a time of uncertainty, with the pandemic and things changing with New York City mandates and everything, it was just easier to focus on one restaurant,” he said. said Bui.

But, he says, with the help of the community, the restaurant is as close to normal as it gets.

“He survived, and now you can tell he’s thriving,” Bui said.

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