A record number of restaurants are opening in New York City. like.

restaurant return. season of hedonism. New York City heat. There’s no shortage of names for what’s unfolding in New York’s sometimes-clogged streets, but Nicole Biscardi thinks there may be room for one more. “This is the beginning of the restaurant renaissance,” says Biscardi, a hospitality industry expert at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

In July 2020, when the five boroughs became an epicenter For coronavirus globally, city officials struggled to document Number of restaurants closing across the city – that was all. Roughly a year later, now the opposite is true: New York City is experiencing one of its busiest seasons to open restaurants in more than a year. Even if it’s not all busy.

Restaurant openings are on the rise again in New York City, but viewed through the lens of pre-pandemic opening data, the renaissance looks like a slow recovery. “People may think restaurants are closing doors, making money on fists, opening left and right, but they don’t realize how devastated the industry was,” Biscardi says. “Even though it looks and sounds like things are back, they are still not.”

According to the latest available data from Yelp, around 700 restaurants opened their doors between March and May 2021, but more than 1,000 opened in the same period in 2019. In May, usually one of the busiest months of the year for restaurant openings, the number of new openings opened by 300 restaurants from 2019 to 2021.

Restaurant reservation company Recy estimates that between April and June 2021, there are roughly the same number of businesses open on its platform as during the same period in 2019. However, the company’s reach has more than doubled in recent years. about 2,000 restaurants at the end of 2018 5,000. more than The following year, suggesting that the opening did not keep pace with the company’s growth.

Still, it’s an encouraging uptick after a year that has stymied restaurant openings during the city’s busiest seasons. Last year, Biscardi says it oversaw restaurant openings across the city, surveying the caseload of more than 600 businesses battling seasonal weather and relocation rules. In the fall, when indoor dining back in a nutshell For New York City, there was “panic” as to how vaguely She says that the policies of the state will come out in reality. After indoor meal To close Two months later, most of the restaurants he spoke with were “crying hysterically,” unsure whether their businesses would make it through the winter.

By spring, there was a coronavirus ban loosened up, and something became clear, Biscardi says. During a year of ups and downs – and most of the ups and downs – some restaurant owners were holding their breath, planning new projects, and waiting to start those that were already working before the pandemic. Were were Now in the summer, restaurant openings are “firing like a shotgun,” she says.

Aldama’s is located at the former location of Williamsburg Bar Lucie Rouge, Revealed in June.
Adam Friedlander/ eater

True, the number of restaurants opening between March and May 2021 is lower than in 2019, but when viewed year-over-year, the number of new food businesses increased by about 92 percent, according to data from Yelp . Between March and July, about 1,300 additional establishments applied for permits through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, though that number also includes non-restaurant food businesses and renovations of existing restaurants.

Spring and autumn were generally the busiest seasons for restaurant openings in pre-pandemic times, but the latest increase in numbers is the culmination of a year’s “bottleneck” according to Biscardi. “That’s how long it could take to plan and open a restaurant, so there were a lot of restaurants waiting in the pipeline,” she says. When pandemic restrictions on restaurants and bars began to loosen, “the people who were ready to go said, ‘Fuck it. Let’s do this now.'”

Such is the case with Hand Hospitality, the hit group behind its name being Han and Izakaya Mew. Excited about the city’s reopening, Hando started In early June Little Maid, a Korean-American restaurant in Nomad, from the same group is located in One’s former location. Hand has plans to expand with a second restaurant next month, a Thai establishment that has been operating for more than a year but was put on hold due to the pandemic.

The openings were driven by a feeling — “everything is slowly coming back,” a spokesperson for the hospitality group told Eater — but also by a fear. “If we don’t do it now, how much later can we wait?” it is said.

According to Andrew Moger, founder of local sandwich chain Melt Shop and real estate development company, Hand Hospitality remodeled its restaurant locations, but elsewhere in New York City, openings from “fire sale” rental deals made earlier in the pandemic being done. BCD. “The things that are opening up now are deals that were done during the pandemic,” when rents were being waived by 30 to 50 percent in some parts of the city, he says. “It’s not like you just sign a lease and you pop it up the next day. It takes time.”

A luxurious dining room with gold trim, red and orange booths, custom light fixtures, and fruit on display

Restaurateur Andrew Carmellini Revealed Carne Mare at South Street Seaport in June.
Nicole Franzen/ carne mare

For operators who had capital at their disposal earlier in the pandemic, the investment is starting to pay off. Blank Street Coffee, which first opened last August in Williamsburg, now has a double-digit lineup of coffee carts and brick-and-mortar cafes under its belt. Founders Issam Freiha and Vinay Menda plan to open 20 additional locations in New York City by the end of the summer, they say, about a third of which will be brick-and-mortar.

“We were the sole bidder most of the time,” Menda says of the rental deals struck at this time last year. “We had all the time in the world to decide what we wanted to do.”

Those opportunities are rare today. Brandon Pea is the founder of Puerto Rican coffee roaster 787 Coffee, which nearly doubled its number of locations last year — from four to 11 — by signing leases at cafe locations that were closed during the pandemic. They estimate that rent prices have increased by about 20 percent compared to this time last year. “A lot of restaurants are opening and everyone is trying to get the best price,” says Pea, who bid three cafe locations in June alone.

“Everything we’ve seen prices go up because they have offers now,” he says. “They didn’t have any.”

Restaurant locations are booming again, but experts say New York City’s economy may still be years away Returning to pre-pandemic levels could lead to more slower to bounce back compared to other metropolitan areas of the country. Other factors including end of state commercial eviction ban More Restaurant Revitalization Fund on September 1 running outThis means that restaurant closures could accelerate.

Biscardi will be the first to say he’s not “intimidated” — or the city-wide economics expert — but as someone who has been on the ground with restaurant and bar owners over the past year, he believes. That’s “we’re on the right track back,” even if it’s long. “Even in the right circumstances—everything is open, the rules are lifted, people want to move out—I think we’re looking at two to three years from now,” she says.

Still, a renaissance is a relative one, and Biscardi expects restaurants and bars to continue to open their doors, especially as New York City inches toward its second-busiest season of openings: fall.

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