NEW YORK — Just minutes after Di An Di, a Vietnamese restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, opened on a recent evening, the seats quickly started to fill.
“Things are slowly normalizing,” said Tuan Bui, co-owner of Di An Di in Brooklyn. “It is kind of back to normal, but it is in the new normal."
The new normal for him: “The new normal is, dealing with higher food costs,” Bui said. "We’re seeing at least a 25% increase across the board with all food expenses, due to transportation, due to supply chain issues."
What You Need To Know
- Tuan Bui, co-owner of Di An Di in Brooklyn, says there are higher food costs and longer waits for deliveries
- According to a survey of the New York State Restaurant Association, 67% of restaurants do not expect business conditions to return to normal for at least another year
- 85% of restaurants surveyed saw a decline in indoor dining because of the rise in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant
Restaurants have to handle these problems in order to attract diners and survive.
“It’s a sense of accommodation every day,” said Mimi Nguyen, an employee. "It’s a new challenge every day, I feel."
“We definitely experience shortage from the vendors often, and due to COVID, so we’re down on a lot of ingredients. Sometimes we have to sub it out, try to figure out how to match those flavor profiles with things we can source here,” said Dayvana San Miguel, another employee.
According to a survey of the New York State Restaurant Association, 67% of restaurants do not expect business conditions to return to normal for at least another year, and 85% of restaurants saw a decline in indoor dining because of the rise in cases from the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Nearly all restaurants surveyed — 93% — said there was a lower profit margin than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Restaurants operate on really small profit margins, if they’re making any money at all,” said Andrew Rigie, the director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “And then all the pandemic shutdowns, the different requirements — there’s just no way they can ever make up all that money to pay back all that debt.”
While Bui’s restaurant, which opened in 2019, stayed open through the pandemic by shifting to takeout, he had to close his other restaurant, An Choi on the Lower East Side, last year after 10 years in operation.
“Making the tough choice of putting our resources during a time of uncertainty, with the pandemic and things changing with the New York City mandates and everything, it was just easier to focus on one restaurant,” Bui said.
But, he says, with the help from the community, the restaurant is as close to normal as possible.
“It survived, and now you can say it’s thriving,” Bui said.
Did you know you can now watch, read and stay informed with NY1 wherever and whenever you want? Get the new Spectrum News app here.