Published by gianfranco on

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

 Dear Governor Cuomo and Statewide Mayors,

 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 Popstores, 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 communitieshealth, caring for our families, and caring for our planet.

 Very sincerely yours,

Gianfranco Sorrentino



 Fabrizio Facchini

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


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


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