For the first time in eight years, all three levels of state government will be controlled by a single party. Following the November elections, Democrats now hold control of the Governorship, Senate and Assembly, seemingly paving the way for easy passage for many progressive policies that have stalled in the Senate over the last few legislative sessions. While many of these policies will go a long ways to improving the lives of many across the state, it is also important to not forget the thousands of struggling small businesses that call the Big Apple home.
New York has some of the most highly taxed communities in the country, and in combination with all the other high expenses that small business mom and pop restaurants have, making ends meet is extremely difficult. Beyond taxes, New York has one of the highest wage rates in the country, ever increasing rents, and additional requirements mandating paid time off – all of which can significantly impact the bottom line for eateries where every dollar matters.
New York is considered one of the culinary capitals of the world. Manhattan is renowned globally for having some of the best chefs and restaurants that are simply beyond compare. However, designations like this may not last forever if high taxes and rents, and burdensome laws and regulations create too big a barrier for restaurants to thrive in New York. This is why it is vital for the Government to take active steps to ensure that the restaurants that create this vibrant community can find it easier to remain profitable.
One of the easiest things that can be done is providing significant protections when it comes to the skyrocketing rent problem nearly all businesses face in New York City.
Landlords currently hold all the cards in negotiations on price and duration of commercial leases. This process needs to be done on a more level playing field where tenants can take unfair landlords to arbitration to ensure they are getting a square deal. There should also be penalties in place for vacant storefronts if property owners are intentionally keeping them empty in hopes of attracting big business years into the future. We understand that landlords have every right to earn a living, however there needs to be a middle ground when it comes to these important negotiations.
Simple regulatory changes would also make a significant difference for many businesses across Manhattan. For example, the meal period law for restaurants should be reviewed for the benefit of both the employees and the owners. Currently, New York State law mandates that workers that have specific shifts must take their break as close to the middle of said shift as possible. The middle of these shifts often occur during the busiest time of day for the restaurant and creates unneeded chaos. Employees also hate taking breaks at this time because they don’t make tips during that time. If we allowed more flexibility around when employees can take meal breaks, it would have a significant positive impact on the efficiency of restaurant operations.
2019 is going to be an important year and is sure to bring about a large number of changes. We need to make sure that small businesses are not overlooked, not only for the overall business community but for everybody who lives in and enjoys visiting one of the culinary capitals of the world.