The Day – Pandemic’s toll on eating places, leisure venues powerful to pin down

It was inevitable that the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic would devastate the leisure and hospitality industry, a “supersector” of Connecticut’s economy.

Hundreds of restaurants have closed due to capacity constraints, some forever while theaters and other entertainment venues have been dark.

How many?

“How many restaurants failed during the pandemic?” asked a reader replying to The Day’s CuriousCT Feature. “What other entertainment venues will not open if allowed?”

Exact answers proved elusive.

As early as November, around eight months after the pandemic, the Connecticut Restaurant Association It was estimated that more than 600 restaurants in the state had either been closed for an extended period of time or permanently, and many would likely suffer a similar fate. The number has since been announced but has never been officially updated. Neither organization, including the Connecticut Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association, the State Department of Economic and Community Development, and the local chambers of commerce, has kept an extensive list of restaurant closings.

“That’s a tough question,” said mystical restaurateur Dan Meiser, who heads the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s board of directors.

He said the association based the number 600 on discussions with major grocers – the Syscos and US Foods of the world – who know which of their customers are no longer in need.

“In the fall, the number rose to 800, and as we approached the holidays and the terraces of the restaurants disappeared and the money for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) ran out, there were more closings,” said Meiser. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it were over 1,000.”

“And that doesn’t include the smaller mom and pop stores that don’t rely on the big box distributors,” he added.

Anecdotes and reports in The Day and other media shed light on the situation in southeast Connecticut.

“We don’t have a formal list of closings, but we can tell you that the following restaurants have closed after the pandemic started: MBar, Green Marble and Bartleby’s Café,” wrote Bruce Flax, executive director of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, in an E. -Mail.

The day reported the closure of Avanti’s Mystic Pizza Restaurant; Cafe Otis in Norwich; Zack’s Bar and Grill in Stonington; and the NoRA Cupcake Co., O’Neills Brass Rail and 1784, all in New London.

Flax also provided a list of newly opened restaurants including Young Buns Donuts, Nana’s Bakery, Noble Smokehouse, The Shipwright’s Daughter, and Via Emilia.

Many of Connecticut’s hardest hit restaurants have been removed from the permanently closed list with the help of grants such as the Connecticut Restaurant Relief Fund grants. Recipients in the area included the Fisherman Restaurant at Long Point, Groton; Rise and Steak Loft, both in Mystic; RD86 and The Yolk Café, both in New London; Namoo in Norwich; Rise Nutrition in Pawcatuck; and Underground in Waterford.

“Of course there are some new ones,” said Meiser, who, along with James Wayman, added Nana’s to Meiser’s restaurant lineup at the end of October.

“We would never have opened Nana’s in a pandemic, except for the simple fact that we signed a contract two months before the pandemic started,” said Meiser. “Is this an exciting climate to open a restaurant? The answer is a tough no. “

Restaurants on the coast in southeast Connecticut have fared better than those in the state’s urban areas, he said.

“In Mystic we could expand our parking lots, have terraces and decks, expand onto sidewalks and there is the tourist component,” said Meiser. “Business has picked up in the last few weeks since the governor lifted capacity restrictions (for indoor restaurants).”

Meiser believes restaurants that survived to this point have a good chance of making it – at least in the summer. But fall and winter will present additional challenges for the many restaurants that are burdened with “exceptional” debt, he said.

Meiser and others in Connecticut and elsewhere fear that mom and pop operators will increasingly be replaced by national chain brands whose business owners have deep pockets.

“They see a great opportunity – and less competition,” he said.

Theaters are looking for help on the fringes

The ultimate fate of entertainment venues in southeast Connecticut may be more difficult to gauge than that of restaurants.

As of March 19, state-imposed rules still limit cinemas, including cinemas, to 50% of their capacity. They have to close by 11 p.m. and keep people 6 feet apart. Only time will tell if they survive.

According to Wendy Bury, executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, no venues have permanently closed at this time.

“I’m knocking on wood as I write this,” Bury said in a recent email, “but we haven’t seen any permanent entertainment venues nearby, considering some are eligible for the closed venue operating grant. .. If.” You don’t get this grant, reopening and restoring will be insurmountable for some. But overall, we keep our fingers crossed and we know it may be too early to see permanent closings as summer and fall will make it or break. “

Arts organization executives gathered outside Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam on Wednesday to urge their colleagues to take advantage of the $ 16.2 billion coronavirus aid provided by promoters, performing arts organizations, cinemas and talent advocates to provide.

Successful Grant closed venues Applicants can receive up to 45% of the annual revenue they lost to the pandemic.

Among those that are likely to apply are the Goodspeed; the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center in Old Saybrook; the Garde Arts Center in New London; and the Strange Brew Pub, Chestnut Street Playhouse and the Norwich Arts Center, all in Norwich.

Even with reduced capacity, the Mystic Luxury Cinemas in Olde Mistick Village have been operating daily since August 22, according to owner Bill Dougherty, who said the size of its audience has grown steadily.

He has introduced new heated electric loungers and a new sound system and may benefit from the fact that other movie houses in the area will remain closed.

“We’re getting our regulars back and we’ve seen many, many new customers,” said Dougherty. “We just had a great week with Godzilla vs. Kong. … Our biggest problem was the distribution of films. “

Niantic cinemas reopened on June 19 and closed on July 30 as few films were available.

“Film companies haven’t released anything,” said George Mitchell, the theater’s owner. “We showed old films like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ and brought in eight people on a Saturday.”

He said he expected to reopen in May.

Arnold Gorlick, who owns Madison Art Cinemas in Madison, a destination for many movie buffs in southeast Connecticut, said his reopening plans depend on securing a closed-venue scholarship.

“The building has not been in use since March 15 last year and I still have a few things to do before I reopen,” he said. “I can see it in June or July if I get a scholarship.”

He noted that some movie theaters have had sizable weekend audiences lately, an indication that people enjoy watching movies.

Regal Cinemas announced that it plans to reopen its multi-screen theaters in Waterford and Pawcatuck on May 14th and 21st, respectively.

COVID Pandemic’s Influence on South Florida’s Leisure District – NBC 6 South Florida

Our look at the pandemic effect takes us into an entertainment district that has seen many ups and downs over the past year.

It’s an area you’ve likely been in: Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

“Nobody really knew, I mean, we were all hopeful, people were scared, business owners were scared, they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know what to do,” says Jodi Tanner, vice president of die Las Olas Association.

The area is Fort Lauderdale’s premier dining, shopping, and activity destination. Tanner is best at telling you that on any given day of the week you would see locals and tourists walking the sidewalk.

When the country closed last March, the boulevard was far from busy.

“It’s been a tough time to be honest,” says Alex Variu, Gran Forno manager.

Gran Forno kept its shop front open during the pandemic, removed seating during start-up, and tried to accommodate all other requests.

“It was tough, the shop was open, we tried to keep it open because the chain stores didn’t have any bread and we tried to help everyone as much as possible,” says Variu.

Marc Leach, pharmacist and owner of The Chemist, can relate to it being a Las Olas staple for 16 years.

“I came in every day during the pandemic and I’d say I’m just one of the happiest guys,” says Leach.

Lucky because they survived the pandemic roller coaster. Some of their neighbors weren’t so lucky.

“It’s tough, it’s not just them, there are a lot of restaurants that are closed and also a lot of businesses, not just restaurants,” says Variu.

Las Olas lost some favorite spots like Timpano Chophouse and Moda Mario, as well as some new editions like Etaru and Talento. They closed the store during the pandemic.

However, when some doors were closed, new stores opened. Las Olas as we once knew it has changed and now there is a rebirth of livelihoods.

“In a really bad situation, people get a little reinvigorated to get out of there, make dreams come true and open the store, open the restaurant,” says Tanner.

Vinos, a small business right on Las Olas, expanded its business and moved across the street. Quiet Waters is a new surf shop. A new jewelry store just opened last month.

There’s Eddie Vs Harborwood at the Hyatt Centric, Hemp Café, and Salt 7th Cuba Libre, a 9,000-square-foot modern Cuban restaurant and pub. will open this month.

“Yeti is doing fantastic and they started in the worst time ever,” says Tanner.

There are more new spots on the way. Las Olas is just one of the many entertainment spots that have changed a lot over the past year. Finally, a year later, companies started talking to NBC 6 about seeing the silver lining and getting back to pre-pandemic levels.

Report reveals pandemic’s ‘devastating’ influence on NYC arts, leisure trade | Enterprise Information

FernandoAH / iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) – A new report shows the “devastating” impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the arts and entertainment sectors in New York City as many venues, including Broadway theaters, have been closed for nearly a year.

A year ago, almost 87,000 people were employed in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors in New York City, excluding freelancers or self-employed, according to the latest employment statistics from the New York State Department of Labor.

By April, after the statewide home stay ordinance went into effect, that number had dropped to 34,100 and “hasn’t changed much” since then, said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose office released the report.

Employment in the arts, entertainment and leisure sectors fell 66% year over year in December – more than any other industry in the city, the report said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is having a profound and very negative impact on this industry,” DiNapoli said during a Facebook livestream on Wednesday. “It’s being forced to shut down venues, throw thousands into unemployment and bring businesses to the brink of collapse.”

The numbers paint a “blatant and devastating” portrait of an industry that “more than prospered” until the pandemic, said DiNapoli. From 2009 to 2019, employment grew 42% – faster than the 30% rate of the private sector as a whole, the report said.

Manhattan is the hub of the city’s arts and entertainment industries and is home to much of its venues and workplaces.

“Every job and company in this previously booming sector must return,” said Gale Brewer, president of Manhattan borough, during the livestream on Wednesday. “It was lost. It has to come back. At the moment Times Square is free.”

Brewer worries that people in the industry have left town for good because of a lack of work.

“We can’t lose your talent,” she said.

The report “puts the numbers behind the feeling that the arts and culture have been hit so hard and that despite great efforts, it is currently the least recovered sector,” she added.

The auditor pointed to a new federal aid package that includes $ 15 billion nationwide for closed arts organizations and earmarked over $ 284 billion to revive the CARES Act paycheck protection program as a potential ointment for the industry.

While performing arts venues, including Broadway theaters, remain closed, some New York City venues and cultural institutions have reopened with restrictions and mitigation measures.

Zoos and aquariums welcomed guests back in July, followed by museums in August with requirements for wearing masks and social distancing, capacity restrictions and timed admissions.

This week, Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center hosted their first fanatic sporting events in nearly a year, with capacity capped at 10%. New York City cinemas will reopen at 25% capacity starting March 5th.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet announced a timetable for performing arts venues, despite saying on Feb. 8 that “the overall effort is heading for a reopening with testing.”

“There are venues that we would like to reopen with tests and capacity restrictions,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “Theater, arenas, why can’t you do that with Broadway? You can.”

The Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers, had previously announced that Broadway performances would be suspended until May 30 this year.

To promote the arts and culture, the state recently launched a new performing arts program, NY PopsUp, that will host over 300 free events nationwide in 100 days.

Next month, New York City will be accepting applications for Open Culture NYC, a permitting program that allows institutions to put on socially distant performances on the city streets. The city recently launched Curtains Up NYC, a program that can connect live venues with federal grants of up to $ 10 million.

With live venues struggling to hold their own for almost a year, some won’t reopen. Among the recent closings, the People’s Improv Theater, a nearly 20-year-old comedy venue, announced last week that it would close its main Manhattan room.

“It has been over 11 months since we were closed and eventually have to surrender to survive,” owner Ali Farahnakian said in a statement. “So we’re in the process of giving up space … thank God for a better future.”

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