Aid could be on the way for local restaurants in need

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Restaurants could soon be on the upswing with the easing of COVID restrictions and possible federal relief dollars.

An increase in capacity to 75 percent for New York State restaurants and a possible $25 billion relief fund from Congress are two ingredients that can help restaurants in need.

“We’re hoping that this is the first semblance of normal,” said New York Restaurant Association Director Dominick Purnomo.

Purnomo has long championed a stimulus package for the industry. The relief measure will be voted on in the House as early as tomorrow and could be signed by President Biden by the end of the week.

“As an industry we’ve been hemorrhaging a lot of money. $216 billion was lost in [revenue in] 2020 in just the independent restaurants. So that’s a lot of down revenue,” Purnomo said.

For some, the aid will come too late. Restaurants in the Capital Region have decided to close their doors permanently. For others, like Chef Ali Celik, it’s the needed life preserver that could help tide him over.

“I had to come up with an idea or way to make up the loss of revenue,” Celik said.

The chef has consolidated his two restaurants on Lark Street. Capacity increase won’t help the business owner because of the size of his restaurants. Instead, he has partially pivoted his business by selling recipes of his marinara and hot oil to keep his doors open.

“It’s impossible to do proper social distancing. I have seven tables inside, so there’s no way to make money,” Celik said.

The increase in capacity for New York restaurants will happen on March 19. With good weather scheduled this week, owners like Purnomo are also considering adding outside dining.

“As we keep moving forward, I think we’re going to see more and more of this,” Purnomo said.

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