NYC Restaurants Cooking Up a Comeback, but Simmering Problems Remain

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Gage & Tollner, the famed downtown Brooklyn landmark that reopened in April after 17 years of being shuttered, is now serving dinner five nights a week and is looking to add brunch, lunch and special events in the coming months.

The restaurant at the NoMo SoHo hotel is completely booked on weekends and will soon start serving brunch daily. The hotel is doing well, too, with 83% occupancy in June.

Business is also picking up at Honeybrains, a fast-casual eatery with four outlets in Manhattan that features a menu influenced by neuroscience.

“I think people want to be out and about and live life and meet up with people,” said owner Marisa Seifan, who stayed open throughout the pandemic and even added two outlets. “I see it in our restaurants.”

With economic activity picking up in an increasingly vaccinated city and some tourists returning, the restaurant and hospitality industry — the sector most devastated by the pandemic recession — is finally showing signs of a sustained recovery.

Data released Thursday by the New York State Labor Department indicates leisure and hospitality jobs increased 18,000 in June, helping fuel a 64,000 jump in the first six months of the year. The key: a 55,000 surge in new positions at restaurants.

Overall, the city added 36,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate dipped to 10.6% from 10.9% in May. Over the first half of the year, the city recovered 87,000 jobs with gains every month since January. However, employment remains 490,000 jobs below the pre-pandemic record of 4.7 million, with only San Francisco and Los Angeles showing weaker rebounds among major U.S. cities.



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