NEW YORK - Sean Kent works as the front of house manager for Orso Restaurant in the Theater District. He got his start in the restaurant business more than 20 years ago as a server at Joe Allen, their sister location.

What You Need To Know

  • According to the Times Square Alliance, 51 percent of restaurants in the theater district are closed

  • Visitor spending on restaurants in the area was particularly down, with a decline of 99% equaling $169 million

  • But could indoor dining, arriving on September 30th change that?

“The whole idea of New York shutting down three weeks prior to it happening seemed like almost impossible. We opened the day after 9/11, you know what I mean?” Kent said.

Joe Allen is a restaurant row staple located on 46th street between 8th and 9th avenues. It has been serving the pre and post theater crowd since 1965 and is a well-known spot for industry insiders.

“Everyone from Terrence McNally to Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, all these people who were young actors, this is where they went for a burger and beer,” said Kent.

But Kent and his staff are missing their usual theater going clientele on account of the COVID-19 forced Broadway shutdown. As are a lot of their theater district counterparts, who continue to remain completely closed during this time.

“Last year 14.77 Million people came to Broadway. And of that 14, eight and a half million of them were tourists. These are tourists joining with New Yorkers to fill parking garages, hotels, restaurants, shops,” said Thomas Schumacher, the Chairman of the Board for The Broadway League, at a press conference last Friday held by Senator Chuck Schumer to promote the “Save our Stages” Bill.

Kent says Joe Allen Restaurant is having a hard time surviving financially.

“The amount of revenue they could generate by just doing outdoor seating, to go and delivery would not ever cover the cost of being open. The only way that it financially made any sense to be open was to be able to open at some indoor capacity,” said Kent.

So that’s what they’re doing. Come October 15th, after being completely closed for seven months, Joe Allen will resume business indoors at 25 percent capacity, with adjusted hours and limited staff.

“There is a possibility of breaking even. But they also want to get everybody back to work,” Kent said.

KC Comeaux has been working as a server at Joe Allen for nearly a decade.

“Potentially we’re only going to have one to two shifts per week, so I think we’ll still be hitting up the unemployment a little bit,” said Comeaux.

Comeaux says he feels safe going back to work.

“You know you’ve been reading all these articles that like New York is dying and blah, it’s like no it’s not. It’s going to be probably different. But it’s certainly not dying and I’m very excited to see what’s going to happen,” Comeaux said.

Kent also remains hopeful: “I know for a fact because I’ve talked to them that we have core regulars that are dying to be back and they’ll be back on day one.”