The COVID-19 pandemic’s heavy impact on catering industry

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NEW YORK — PIX11 News has reported time and time again that small businesses have really taken a hit during this pandemic.

Thursday, we talked with the owners of two catering companies who say their industry is now in trouble.

COVID-19 continues to cancel weddings, parties, family gatherings and now even corporate holiday events, celebrations catering companies rely on.

Guy DeMeo runs Unique Affairs Catering and handles events at the Davenport Mansion in Westchester County.

His last normal event was in 2019.

He says January and February are usually slower months and in March, when things were starting to pick-up again, COVID-19 crippled the catering industry.

“It’s a tough, tough struggle,” he said. “My business is down roughly about 85 percent. However, all my expenses are basically the same.”

He was forced to furlough dozens of employees and still has to dish out money for bills.

Even worse, he says he tried to use his catering hall space like a restaurant to get more business, but he was denied by the state.

“Our venues are larger than restaurants for outdoor or indoor, we’re not looking to put tables on the street or parking lot,” he said

Across the river in New Jersey, Richard Landau runs A Bite of Heaven.

He too hasn’t been able to serve up any sales since March and says he maxed out his credit cards, let go of his employees and is barely surviving on unemployment.

“Between March 17th and now, I have done zero dollars in sales,” he said. “It’s definitely been rough, it’s definitely a struggle. I have anxiety. It’s nerve wracking.”

Landau recently launched a cooking program on Youtube.

As NYC braces for a second wave this holiday season, with COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, these are just two of many struggling stories of survival in the catering industry. Both hoping for some relief soon.

“We understand the health and safety of our guests and staff, but from a business perspective, it’s not sustainable,” said DeMeo. “We really do need some type of financial relief.”

PIX11 News did reach out to the governors’ offices in both New York and New Jersey late Thursday to see if there is any financial relief these catering companies will be receiving. We are waiting to learn more. In New Jersey, we’re told over 300 grants were given out to caterers in the state.

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