SummerBy David Helbraun
on May 23, 2020 in Coronavirus
Hot Time!! Summer in the City
So, here we are, a few months in with summer at our door and most of us are hanging in there but it ain’t easy. The PPP money is going to run out soon and DeBlasio is in lala land and DT’s abracadabra plan to fix our country with divine miracles and hydroxy mirages has gotten us nowhere. Our Jowly elected gave us a couple of bucks to administer unemployment to our phantom employees with a little on the side to pay Landy. Governor Cuomo, for all his straight talk and quirky philosophies on family life and meatballs has not done much for the industry. Mayor DeBlasio is just well, he’s our Cindy Brady. Absolutely frozen when the red light comes on and it’s time to act. A pitiful mess.
So, yay, it’s Memorial Day Weekend. But it’s gonna be a cruel, cruel summer if we don’t keep up the pressure and force our dearly elected back up on the lifeguard stand to do their job and rescue our businesses and our lives. We must make our voices heard and let them know that we are not out of the woods, the coast is not clear, our ducks are not in a row and brighter days are not ahead (all phrases used by pols in the last 24 hours) unless we get some goddamn relief. The money is running out, we are not open, and this delivery/marketplace bullshit “pivot” is not going to pay the rent.
So what can be done? Here are a few things:
Feds – Sure, extend the timeline on the PPP and rejigger the 75/25 requirement. That will help a little. Then, do it again the right way with more money and less restrictions. Do it just for small retail businesses this time if you’re so afraid of whatever it is that scares you. Give the mamas and the papas some money to pay Landy and we might be ok. Or, you know those banker boys that you are all so chummy with? Require them to forgive Landy’s mortgage payments for a while and bail them out. That move is already in your good ‘ol boy playbook so no excuses.
Albany – Sales tax is due next month on June 22nd. Are you really going to make us dip into our tattered pockets and force us to give you our last dime? Maybe you can cut us a break and let us keep that money or, if that’s too politically unsavory for you, defer it for a year or three. And how about those business interruption bills that are wilting away in the legislature? Also, how about setting your phaser up a few notches and pushing up outdoor seating in restaurants and bars to Phase 1 rather than Phase 3? Then, manhandle our Mayor like only you can do and tell him to open our streets. Governor, we know nothing happens without you. Now that you have a handle on the health crisis, can you get behind us?
City Hall – Open the streets already. The letters and op-eds have been penned and the support has been thrown and even the community boards are behind opening the streets, so what’s the holdup? Identify some spots and close off some streets for seating. Just try it out and see how amazing it will be to have people seated in safe distances rather than huddling in groups and then do it everywhere. Also, sign the 1932 Bill already and feign being a leader, if only for a minute.
Here are some other tidbits affecting our world:
Leases and Landys – The tide is starting to turn and Landy is feeling the heat as mortgage payments become due and tenants are not paying. They are starting to finally understand that it is in their best interest to have a tenant who will pay something rather than have an empty space. They are also getting hip to the fact that the tried and true Landy bullying tactics are no longer effective and they are dragging their leveraged asses to the bargaining table. Here are some things we have seen over the last week so you get sense of the current landyscape:
- A Manhattan restaurant successfully worked out a deal to abate rent for a prolonged period of time and entered into a % rent deal for the next few years.
- A number of restaurateurs who had successfully agreed to handshake deals to abate rent for the past few months have now been asked to pay rent in full. Email exchange is not sufficient! Any rent relief deal agreed with Landy should be in writing and signed by both parties.
- A number of Landys are working with tenants to provide abatements to help them get through April – September, and then have committed to good faith discussions in October to re-negotiate the lease.
- A Queens bar was able to successfully reach a termination and release deal with Landy for approximately 50% of the outstanding pre-covid amounts that were owed.
Rest up friends. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. Take a walk. Rusticate. Give your overworked brain a rest. Let’s honor and take inspiration from the men and women who have fought for our country. Then, on Tuesday morning, get ready to come back strong so you can kick everyone’s ass. Kick your council member’s ass, kick the the Mayor’s ass, kick Cuomo’s ass, kick anyone’s ass who needs it. The time for letters and zooms and nicey-nice is behind us. The next two months are the middle of the battle. This is where we show the world how tough and resilient hospitality people are and that we will not go down quietly or easily and fuck you if you think we will.
I’m taking the next three days off to garden, cook, read something other than the news, have a dance party or two with Lauren and chill. If anything important breaks, I’ll let you know. If not, back on Tuesday, ready to hit it.
As Jerry and the boys say: “Don’t hang your head, let the good times roll”.
Enjoy the weekend,
David Helbraun is the Founding Partner and Chairman of the firm. He is a lifelong entrepreneur who has been running successful businesses in New York City for years.