Bucco: Restaurant Closings Rest at Governor’s Feet

Bucco: Restaurant Closings Rest at Governor’s Feet

The popular Market Taverne restaurant in Morristown is the latest causality due to New Jersey’s prohibition on indoor dining.

The decision to shut this restaurant down forever leaves 30 employees without jobs, and became public only days after another popular restaurant in the town, La Campagna announced they were going out of business.

“This is real life, and the Governor is letting it happen,” said Senator Anthony M. Bucco, a tireless advocate for a more business-supportive approach from the Administration. “I’ve heard of seven restaurants that can’t hold on, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Businesses are dying, dreams are fading, jobs are being lost and the Governor has done little to help.”

Restaurants expected to welcome diners back on a limited basis on July 2, but Murphy changed his mind two days before, banning indoor service indefinitely.

“It was a devastating blow for thousands of businesses barely holding on financially after months of restrictions,” said Bucco. “This policy flip added insult to injury to businesses that desperately needed to re-open and invested heavily in perishable supplies to feed customers. It was a cruel twist, and many operations have never recovered.”

Restaurants had no choice but to try to tread water with take-out service and outdoor dining. In Morristown many eateries had trouble offering outside dining so the town tried to close a portion of South Street to traffic to enhance safety for curb-side tables.

The State Department of Transportation blocked the effort to re-direct cars on the State road, and once again restaurants were nudged toward bankruptcy.

“It was a short-sighted and insensitive refusal to adapt the rules by the DOT,” said Bucco, who wrote to the commissioner urging the State to reconsider. “We’ve all made sacrifices and changes during the pandemic. In writing, I asked for an explanation of the decision, which I never received. I don’t understand how they can justify turning their backs on employers and hospitality workers who could have been helped by simply detouring traffic for a block or two until the health emergency passes.

“This was another missed opportunity for Murphy, who should have stepped up to help businesses and save jobs.”

Bucco has also repeatedly called for the Governor to appropriate money in the state’s CARES Act fund.

He sponsors legislation that would provide direct support for struggling restaurants from more than $2 billion of federal COVID aid that has not been allocated.

“This week, we are seeing the results of the administration’s apathy toward the job-creators that New Jerseyans depend on,” said Bucco. “Restaurants closing, unemployment numbers rising again, feelings of desperation and hopelessness on Main Streets and business districts across the state is a bad sign for New Jersey. The Governor needs to turn this around before it’s too late.”

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