Businesses across New York City have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. However, restaurants in Manhattan, which rely on the lunch rush from employees of nearby office buildings, have been particularly suffering from the lack of business.

The real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield reported there are a quarter of ground-floor storefronts in Lower Manhattan that are available for rent amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, around a third of storefronts are available in Herald Square.

Although areas across Manhattan have been experiencing a decrease in customers as a result of the pandemic, businesses in Midtown reportedly suffered the most

“Midtown clearly has been the hardest hit of any of the areas of Manhattan,” said Jeffrey Roseman, a retail real estate broker at Newmark. 

“If you think of other office-centric areas, whether all the way downtown or Flatiron or Hudson Yards, there is a lot of residential surrounding those areas that helped sustain those markets. Midtown, for the most part, is a one-trick pony. It’s mostly offices and hotels, which also took a hit from the downturn in tourism.”

While some businesses have been forced to shut their doors in Manhattan due to the pandemic, others are zeroing in on the newly vacated spaces.

Restaurants like Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Sonic, and Shake Shack signed new rental agreements in Manhattan.

While Midtown is still not back to its pre-pandemic influx of customers, Stephen Smittle, the senior vice president of operations for Le Pain Quotidien, believes that customers will eventually return to the once-busy area.

“Our thinking is that Midtown New York will come back to a level that might not be 100 percent pre-pandemic, but based upon information we have gathered, I do believe that Midtown is going to come back to a prominent level,” Smittle said.

In the pre-Covid-19 era the streets of midtown Manhattan would be teeming with people - but now New York's famous business districts are struggling to survive In the pre-Covid-19 era the streets of midtown Manhattan would be teeming with people - but now New York's famous business districts are struggling to survive Photo: AFP / Angela Weiss