Gas service delays burden city restaurants, force layoffs: Study

Gas delays are leaving the ovens cold in restaurants across the city, a new study found.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman released a survey last week highlighting that some eateries have had to wait an average of 68 days — and up to a year — to get utility companies to activate their gas service.

The delays have cost the businesses an average of $140,000, with many of the 28 surveyed venues indicating they had to reduce employee hours or lay off staff because they could not serve and sell food.

“It’s time that utility companies take customer service seriously for restaurants,” Hoylman said. “If they don’t, New York State needs a new regulatory framework to protect these valuable small businesses, which are struggling to stay open in the face of high rents, regulation and market pressure.”

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said the delays impact new businesses as well as restaurants that realize they need more gas or have temporarily closed during construction work.

“It’s very difficult for businesses to get solid information about when they can expect their gas to be turned on,” Rigie said. “We’ve had situations where restaurants have contacted us and said, ‘We’re going to have to start laying employees off because we can’t afford to keep them employed if we can’t open our doors and generate revenue.’ ”

Rigie said he hoped the survey would lead to more discussions with utility companies about what hurdles may be causing the delays and how to mitigate them.

Press representatives for Con Edison, which provides gas service in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, and National Grid, which provides utilities in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens, said the process of connecting customers to new gas service involves several parties and a careful review designed to ensure everyone remains safe. (Sarina Trangle)