ASTORIA - Council Member Costa Constantinides has asked the New York City Department of Small Business Services to meet with Astoria small business owners, get a first-hand look at the dire financial situation they face, and find a creative solution to see them through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Astoria lawmaker's request comes as more bars and restaurants face permanent closure this fall, even with serving diners indoors at a reduced capacity. While that option and expanded outdoor dining have helped make ends meet, many of these local economic drivers still need resources to get through the colder months.
“For months, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, restaurants were relegated to only take-out or delivery service. This was a deadly blow to establishments that were packed to the gills before the pandemic,” Constantinides wrote to SBS Commissioner Jonnel Doris last week. “Our restaurants took it in stride, however, to do their part in flattening the curve. Then, as we recovered and the phased reopenings began, there was a small sigh of relief. Expanded outdoor dining has indeed helped cushion the financial blow but, as we enter the sixth month of this pandemic, these restaurants have been left out to dry.”
Constantinides also noted the onus is also on Congress, where some lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refuse to pass a New York City-specific stimulus package that helps small businesses.
But in tandem with those sorely needed federal dollars, Constantinides noted, the City must work with local leaders to help them access other grants, resources, and other support available. Constantinides and State Senator Jessica Ramos previously called on the City to do more for these small businesses, after data showed Manhattan small businesses received a majority of grants available in light of the pandemic.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council's 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council's Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.