“We’ve taken a big nose dive the last two weeks,” Koteen said. “It’s painful.”
Customers are calling to cancel reservations and parties left and right, she said. Around 10 of her staff of 70 have tested positive for the virus, leaving the restaurant scrambling to fill their shifts.
Over the weekend, Koteen considered closing Lido down for January. Now, she’s thinking “we’ll limp along” for the winter.
“Everyone that works for me is my responsibility. I want them to have a paycheck, but I don’t want them to get sick,” she said. “This is going to be a really rough patch for us.”
Spreading cases and collective anxiety are starting to take a toll on restaurants, stores, hotels and other businesses, which are desperate to recover from the pandemic and jumpstart business during the holidays.
Some shop owners describe a feeling of déjà vu and are struggling to respond to the latest Covid-19 wave.
The store, Korshak Bagels, stayed closed through the weekend. He hopes to reopen Wednesday.
“I closed for the three days of the week where I make the most money,” he said. “I had to generate payroll without income for all the employees.”
Korshak is now keeping a rapid Covid-19 test on hand for each employee, but he’s worried he will be forced to shut down for an extended period this winter. He wouldn’t be able to handle closing for longer than that.
“Is there a possibility we will be shut down for so long a time that I won’t hold on to staff?”
For many businesses in the service sector, the holidays are the most important stretch of the year.
“The holidays are our Black Friday,” said Sean Kennedy, the executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, an industry group.
Ninety thousand restaurants — approximately 14% of all US restaurants— have permanently shut down during the pandemic, according to the group.
“We are definitely picking up more cancellations, softer demand at a national basis at a time when revenue is critical,” Kennedy said. “This is truly the perfect storm for a low-margin business like restaurants.”
The week before Christmas is some of the “busiest days of the year.” But she canceled an event at the store set for Tuesday because she didn’t want to draw too big a crowd.
The mood among shoppers has shifted, she said, and she’s anticipating a dropoff in sales as people stay home. This may force her to pull back on staff and merchandise in 2022.
“Usually this a very joyful time to shop, and it’s feeling very somber,” she said.