CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday he will close his New York restaurants soon because of the coronavirus pandemic, but hopes to restart them when the public health crisis is over.
“I’m closing my restaurants and I’m closing them in 10 days,” Cramer said on Squawk on the Street. “I’ll finish them up. If we get a vaccine I’ll open up again.”
Cramer said he will pay rent for his two Brooklyn restaurants while they are down. He noted that part of the decision to close them was that it was difficult to get finances up and running, citing a 25% operating limit for indoor restaurants in the city. “At 50% you might be able to do it,”
However, during the pandemic, Cramer often raised concerns about the role of restaurants and bars in facilitating human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus. “It’s just not safe to keep opening the restaurants and bars. Every time they open again, the virus comes back,” Cramer said on September 21 on Mad Money.
He repeated that concern on Friday when he explained why he was going to close his restaurants. The decision was based on “the combination of the airflow problems and the fact that we don’t have a vaccine, just therapeutics,” Cramer said, probably referring to the emergency approvals for drugs like Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir.
The gastronomy was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, especially by small and independent businesses. According to Yelp, as of August 31, 32,109 US restaurants were closed, approximately 61% permanently.
Cramer has repeatedly urged Congress to give strong support to restaurants and the U.S. economy during the pandemic, and recently heightened those calls when Democratic leaders and White House officials sought to reach an agreement on additional coronavirus aid.
While Cramer sympathizes with the struggles of small business owners, he has recognized that he has the financial resources that most do not have.
“Look, we were the last to try. There’s still a couple out there who have plenty of outdoor space,” Cramer said on Friday, referring to the expanded outdoor dining program in New York City. “But we’re not alone like this. I think about 50% of people are in the same situation.”