Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito: Local restaurants face ‘mass extinction’ with coronavirus closures
Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito: Coronavirus-hit restaurant industry may face ‘mass extinction event’
Cleo NYC Executive Chef Rocco DiSpirito on his efforts to help the restaurant industry, which is struggling from the coronavirus, specifically in New York City as dining restrictions continue.
New York City needs to open indoor dining before restaurants go "extinct" due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's coronavirus lockdown, Cleo Executive Chef Rocco DiSpirito told "Varney & Co." Wednesday.
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The lockdown is a "mystery to all of us," the celebrity chef told host Stuart Varney.
"This is a dire, dire time in the history of restaurants. I would've never imagined it would come to this," DiSpirito said.
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"We're talking about tens of millions of jobs," he explained. "The independent restaurant community is the largest employer in the United States besides the federal government, and up and down the supply chain we're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars and cash flowing in and out of restaurants."
The celebrity chef is one of more than 300 restauranteurs in a class-action lawsuit seeking over $2 billion in damages due to the city’s ongoing indoor dining ban, Eater NY reports.
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He's also pushing Congress to pass the RESTAURANTS Act, seeking $150 billion in aid, "because otherwise, we're looking at a mass extinction event of 50 to 80% of independent restaurants going bye-bye forever," he said.
He said he opened up a pop-up in Midtown East called "Cleo" to take advantage of outdoor dining only, but it is only a temporary solution.
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"We're really hoping New York will follow New Jersey's lead and open indoor dining for at least 25% capacity very soon. The time is now. We cannot afford to wait any longer."
Varney pushed back saying that opening a restaurant with a quarter capacity isn't profitable, but DiSpirito said it's a start, adding that with the reopening of schools or other businesses, it should be possible.
"We're, I think, one of the only cities left in the country where we can't do some sort of indoor dining," he said.
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