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East Village the New York City neighborhood hardest hit by COVID with 54 restaurant and bar closures

At least 54 restaurants and bars have permanently closed their doors in Manhattan’s East Village since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, making it the neighborhood hardest hit by the lockdown and business restrictions.

According to the New York-based restaurant recommendation site The Infatuation, which has been tracking closures since March 2020, the number of dining and drinking establishments that have been shuttered in the East Village is more than double than in the West Village, which was second hardest hit neighborhood in the city with 21 closures.

An additional 19 eateries closed on the Lower East Side, followed by 15 each in Williamsburg and Staten Island, 14 on the Upper West Side, 13 in Midtown Manhattan, and 11 in Chinatown.

Big Gay Ice Cream closed in East Village

The coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and restrictions have decimated East Village’s dining scene, causing at least 54 eateries to close, including Jules Bistro and Big Gay Ice Cream  

The beloved candy and soda shop Gem Spa, which opened in the 1920s, went out of business in May 2020

The beloved candy and soda shop Gem Spa, which opened in the 1920s, went out of business in May 2020  

East Village has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, in part due to its reliance on its hard-partying patrons who could no longer go out late at night and spent money on alcohol

East Village has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, in part due to its reliance on its hard-partying patrons who could no longer go out late at night and spent money on alcohol

Those familiar with the East Village’s once-vibrant dining scene and nightlife argue that neighborhood businesses have found themselves on the ropes during the pandemic because the vast majority of their patrons were people in their 20s who tended to go out late at night to eat and drink – something they could not longer do during lockdown, reported New York Post.

NYC RESTAURANT CLOSURES BY NEIGHBORHOOD:   

East Village: 54

West Village: 21

Lower East Side: 19

Williamsburg: 15

Staten Island: 15 

Upper West Side: 14 

Midtown: 13

Chinatown: 11

Upper East Side: 10

Murray Hill: 6

SoHo: 6

FiDi: 6                                                                                                Source: The Infatuation 

A ban on indoor dining had been in place on and off for nearly a year, before Gov Andrew Cuomo in February allowed guests back inside at 25 capacity.

In November, Cuomo imposed a 10pm curfew for New York City bars and restaurants, which was extended last month to 11pm.

‘Liquor is a vital part of the East Village’s restaurant business and it has been crushed by the curfew,’ restaurateur Stratis Morfogen told the Post. 

Morfogen went on to say that while in most places food accounts for 75 per cent of the business and alcohol for 25 per cent, in East Village, which is filled with college-age people, the opposite is true.

Over the past year, some of East Village’s most beloved mainstays have gone out of business, having been unable to make ends meet during the lockdown, including The Mermaid Inn, Jules Bistro, the celebrated candy and soda shop Gem Spa, which had been around since the 1920s and possibly originated the egg cream soda craze, the original Coyote Ugly, which inspired the eponymous 2001 movie, and dozens of other beloved neighborhood hangouts.

Elsewhere in the city, other storied establishments have fallen victim to the pandemic, including the legendary 21 Club and Esca in Midtown, Uncle Boons in Nolita, Bubby’s in the Meatpacking District and China Chalet in FiDi.

West Village has seen at least 21 businesses fail, among them Gotham Bar and Grill

West Village has seen at least 21 businesses fail, among them Gotham Bar and Grill 

Mission Chinese Food is one of at least 19 bars and eateries that have gone out of business on the Lower East Side

Mission Chinese Food is one of at least 19 bars and eateries that have gone out of business on the Lower East Side 

Maison Premiere shuttered in Williamsburg, along with 14 other establishments

Maison Premiere shuttered in Williamsburg, along with 14 other establishments  

The avalanche of closures has been blamed in part on high rents, coupled with dramatically lower revenues, and urban flight, with large numbers of people relocating to the suburbs, or other states.

But with spring just around the corner, there have been some hopeful signs for economic recovery, with new bars and restaurants opening all over the city, including in the East Village, which is now home to Puerto Rican coffee roaster 787 Coffee, Hub Thai and Davidovich Bakery. 


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