NYC Restaurateurs: Business Down 40 to 60 Percent Due to Vaccine Mandate

'They're Coming Against the Heart of the City'
October 1, 2021 Updated: October 1, 2021

New York City restaurateurs are complaining that their business has been slashed severely by the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which requires people 12 and older to show vaccination proof for indoor dining, indoor fitness, and indoor entertainment.

Pre-pandemic, O’Donoghue’s Pub and Restaurant was a successful business that has been open for 10 years in Times Square, Manhattan.

Fergal Burke, the owner of O’Donoghue’s noticed that his business has seen “a massive drop,” since the vaccine mandate came into effect.

“We don’t have the money here to survive without the help of our landlord, [who] has been very supportive and has been giving us breaks on the rent, but without our landlord, we would not be in business,” Burke told The Epoch Times.

He said that he needed to hire another person to be at the door checking for vaccination proof, which increased his expenses.

Comparing the clientele from pre-mandate to when it kicked in about two weeks ago, “Our business is definitely down 50, I’m going to say 60 percent,” Burke said with a somewhat downhearted tone. “There’s just not people coming into the restaurant, they have the fear of being asked for vaccines.”

Burke and his staff have had to refuse a lot of customers for not having the passes.

“They’re being refused and they get a resentment against us, they don’t get a resentment against Bill de Blasio or Biden, or whoever is mandating us to check for this.”

“It comes as a personal rejection,” he said, further stressing that it’s not O’Donoghue’s that wants this. “We don’t want this mandate, we want nothing to do with this.”

He also noted how the subway is full of people but there’s no requirement to show vaccination proof.

“I mean how is that fair in New York City, that the trains are jammed with people with a silly mask on and they’re not being mandated to show nothing, and yet they’re coming against the heart of the city. We’re the ones that’s trying to keep 20 people employed here,” Burke said.

“We will go out of business if this continues, it’s gonna force us to shut our doors.”

Despite winter coming soon, they now need to build an outdoor dining area to facilitate an outdoor space, which will cost about 10 to $15,000.

Epoch Times Photo
Luke’s Lobster in Manhattan, N.Y., on Oct. 1, 2021. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)

Some restaurants like Luke’s Lobster have been less affected by the vaccine mandates since their restaurant has little indoor dining space and is located near a park and many outdoor tables on Broadway.

The manager there told The Epoch Times that people are mostly compliant, and if anyone can’t dine-in due to lack of proof, they will go to the tables outside.

“Some people are obviously not super happy about it but they will comply and if they don’t want to comply they’ll take it outside,” she said.

‘No One Size Fits All’

Restauranteur Stratis Morfogen, a managing partner at Brooklyn Chop House, thinks that the government needs to start considering bailouts to help the restaurant industry again.

“Business is down probably 50 percent because people are not comfortable with being forced to take a vaccine,” Morfogen told The Epoch Times.

“All of a sudden, we dropped 40 percent from week to week, since the mandate started.

“The politicians don’t understand it is that there is no one size fits all with medicine. And you can’t tell a person has just finished chemotherapy, that they have to take a vaccine to have a dinner, when their doctor says they can’t.”

Morfogen said that now they have to police COVID-19 vaccination cards, most of which are written in pen. He says 2 million were distributed before the city implemented a central database.

“It’s as smart as my 1983 driver’s permit. My daughter who is 13 can print out one of the fakes on her bedroom printer and you want me to question the customers if this card is legitimate, when every one of them is pretty much is written in pen?”

Morfogen said that his business did fairly well during COVID-19 and survived the restaurant crisis, but that he feels a responsibility to speak up.

“Nobody steps up for the little guys,” he said.

“I’m not fighting for myself. I’m fighting for the ones that don’t have a platform that are getting screwed by these politicians every day.”

Epoch Times Photo
“The Counter” custom burger shop in Times Square, N.Y., on Aug. 7, 2021. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)

The manager of custom burger restaurant The Counter located in Times Square told The Epoch Times that “everyone is losing thousands of dollars,” and that they will go out of business due to the vaccine mandate.

“The mayor is a jerk,” she said.

The Epoch Times reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.

Enrico Trigoso
Enrico Trigoso is an Epoch Times reporter focusing on the NYC area.