COVID-19 / GI OPEN LETTER TO NYS GOV CUOMO
New York March 27, 2020
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
To All Mayors, State of New York
As background, GRUPPO ITALIANO, is a non-profit organization consisting of 450 members, dedicated to fostering genuine Italian products and culinary culture through education; promoting a constant flow of information among member restaurants, producers, importers, and distributors of authentic Italian products, with the press, culinary schools, and the general public with a serious passion for authentic Italian food and wine. AICNY (Association Italian Chefs Of New York), comprised of roughly 1200 members, aims to promote chefs, products, and authentic Italian food in the USA and has an educational role collaborating with US-based culinary schools and colleges. The association also helps communities and other non-profit organizations and foundations executing charity events and fundraising in New York and other states.
First, we would like to thank you, the many State workers, medical professionals, and the significant military support for a coordinated emergency effort to address the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. We also want to thank all of our fellow restaurateurs and their team members who are helping to provide food to hospital workers and their patients, as well as those who need food and have no means to get it. Our restaurateurs also continue to deliver food to New Yorkers at a very high risk to their own health.
We understand the necessity of your far-reaching industry closures to ensure the safety of our cities, local communities, and especially, in our case, the health of our customers and business partners. The ramifications of these closures are felt along the entire food supply and service chains—-producers, importers, distributors, retailers and “Mom and Pop” stores, restaurants (of all sizes), and their employees—-and thus warrant immediate structural adjustments and targeted financial relief. Working together, a plan is needed to stimulate the hospitality industry so the economic engine that employs so many thousands of people and supports the economy of the region does not come to a complete halt.
We are here to accept our responsibilities and are ready to do our part. As professionals and experts working in the field, we are uniquely situated to recommend the measures we see to best position our industry to reopen, rehire, and thus rejuvenate communities, at the appropriate time.
Therefore, GRUPPO ITALIANO and AICNY and our associates request your careful consideration of the following:
1) Advise us when it will be safe to reopen our businesses. Once that date is known, we can begin to purchase new inventory, re-employ our now terminated employees, and bring some normalcy back. We know this timeframe is difficult to predict, but respectfully request as early and as open communication as possible.
2) Create guidelines as to how to sanitize all restaurant kitchens, dining rooms, lockers, and storage units. Clearly, the fulfillment of these guidelines will reassure the general public about the safety of restaurants state-wide and make certain that all restaurants are adhering to proper, systematic health standards.
In conjunction with this sanitation effort, a public service and social media campaign needs to be developed and run prior to the reopening timing. The campaign should be designed to alleviate any public fears that restaurants are unsafe and assure customers of our businesses.
3) Defer payments otherwise due under leases, and loan obligations, as well as governmental real estate taxes, for all effected businesses and their employees.
4) Assist in offering new 5-year loans of amounts up to $250,000 (in accordance with the size of each restaurant) at very low interest.
5) Assist in providing restaurants and distributors with rent abatement for the duration of the administrative closure, followed by percentage rent through 2020 for tenants. This will allow restaurants to maintain at least 80% of their staffs, who in turn will be able to care for their families.
6) Place a moratorium on the taxes that importers and distributors have to pay for alcohol content where the import is direct.
7) Protect unemployment insurance premiums so rates are not increased.
8) Provide a line of credit at very low interest for distributors.
9) Lastly, place a freeze on all the pending cases with the IRS and health department, with no interest, and no penalty.
These recommendations to the State and local municipalities are carefully and strategically targeted. They buy our industry much needed time and offer accessible, tangible resources to counter our enormous financial pressures.
We are reciprocally connected to the vitality of other businesses and major tourist attractions, especially in New York City, i.e., Broadway, museums, retail shopping, hotels, etc. We depend upon a healthy and richly functioning city.
Without question, the restaurant and hospitality industry itself must also take prudent steps. We have always been the first industry called upon, by foundations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, to bring people and causes together; to raise awareness. We look forward to continuing this vital role as soon as it is feasible.
Therefore, GRUPPO ITALIANO and AICNY are asking our leadership and politicians to help our industry to survive. In doing so, we can continue caring for our communities’ health, caring for our families, and caring for our planet.
Very sincerely yours,
President, GRUPPO ITALIANO
Adviser Board Member, AICNY
President Cooks Alliance,
Slow Food USA & NY State
Letter Endorsed by:
Salvino Nasello, Tradizione Import
Reid Rosen, legal counsel
Iacopo Di Teodoro, Artisanal Cellars
Emiliano Poggi, Enotria Wine
Lisa Sasson, New York University Food Lab
Jordan Frosolone, Chef/Partner – THE LEOPARD des Artistes
Gennaro D’Alessio, C&D Import
GRUPPO ITALIANO ADVISORY BOARD
Paula Bolla-Sorrentino, Partner, IL GATTOPARDO Group
Simona Grazzaniga, New York Rep, ALL ABOUT ITALY
David Ernst, Director of Operations, GRUPPO ITALIANO
Ted Kauffman, Nastasi Food
Lorenzo Zurino, The One
Luca Landoli, St. John’s University
Nunzio Castaldo, Panebianco Import
John Cefaly, Cushman Wakefield
Tom Falus, Sienna Capital
Adam Smith, Circle Finance
Enrico Battisti, Soilair Import
Mimmo Magliuolo, Buon Italia Import
Mauro Solinas, La Smeraldina
Nicola Tegoni, Partner, Dunnington Bartholow & Miller, LLP
Franco Bengasi, Wine Emporium
Raffaele Solinas, Vice-President
Salvatore Musso, VP
Vincenzo Garofalo, VP
Massimo Bottura, Honorary Member
Pasquale Torrente, Honorary Member
Fortunato Nicotra, Honorary Chef
Antonio Ciolino, Vice President
Giovani Vittorio Tagliaferro, Secretary
Erminio Contr, Chef Founder
Luigi Speranza, Director of Operations
& All AICNY Board Members & Members
AICNY OTHER SUPPORTERS
Elisabeth Falkner, Chef, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Association President,
TV Celebrity, Book Author
Scott Lazerson, Special Economic Advisor, Connector & Publicist
Jean-Louis Dumonet, President de la delegation USA – Canada
Maitres Cuisiniers de France (French Chefs Associations USA & Canada)
Julie Freeman, MMGY NJF, EVP, Managing Director
Anna Mule, Slow Food USA Executive Director
Laura Luciano, Governor Slow Food NY State & Chair Slow Food NY State
Silvia Barban, Chef Entrepreneur, TV Celebrity
Patricia Novo, Restaurateur, Teacher Sunny Schenectady
Michael Endico, Ace Endico, Food Distributor & Philanthropist
Pietro Brembilla, CEO Sogno Toscano – Tuscan Dream Specialty Food
Beatrice Faldon, Brand Ambassador
Vittorio Giordano, Executive Vice President, Urbani Truffles
Rocco DiSpirito, Chef Tv Celebrity, Book Author
Geoffrey Zakarian, Chef & Restaurateur, Celebrity TV, Book Author
Michele A Mazza, AICNY President, Corporate Chef “Il Mulino”
Cesare Casella, Chef Tv Celebrity, Book Author, Chef The Center for Discovery,
AICNY Honorary President
Francesco Panella, Restaurateur & TV Celebrity, Book Author
Ciro Lovine, Restaurateur, Tv Celebrity, Member Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana
Pasquale Cozzolino, Chef Partner Ribalta, Tv Celebrity, Book Author
Herb Karlitz, Karlitz & Co, City Harvest Board Member
Benjamin Bragard, Bragard USA Entrepreneur
Roberto Caporuscio, Restaurateur, TV Celebrity, Pizza Academy Foundation
Piero Armenti, Famous NYC Food & Travel Blogger, TV Celebrity,
Book Author, Entrepreneur
Phil Kafarakis, President, Speciality Food Association
Jeffrey Novo, Restaurateur
Dominick Purnomo, Restaurateur- Yono’s and dp An American Brasserie
Mark A. Delos, Vice President, Mazzone Hospitality