Cramer says he is closing his eating places, hopes to reopen ‘once we get a vaccine’ for coronavirus

CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday he will soon be shuttering his New York restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic but hopes to restart them when the public-health crisis passes.

“I’m closing my restaurants and I’m closing them in 10 days,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.” “I’m mothballing them. When we get a vaccine, I’ll reopen.”

Cramer said he will pay rent on his two Brooklyn restaurants while they’re not operating. He noted that part of the decision to shutter them was difficulty making the financials work, citing 25% operating limit on indoor dining in the city. “At 50%, you can possibly make it,” he said.

However, during the pandemic, Cramer also frequently expressed concern about the role of restaurants and bars in facilitating the person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus. “It’s just not safe to keep reopening the restaurants and the bars. Every time they reopen, the virus comes roaring back,” Cramer said on “Mad Money” on Sept. 21. 

He reiterated that concern Friday when explaining why he will move to close his restaurants. The decision was based on “the combination of the air flow issues, and the fact we don’t have a vaccine, we just have therapeutics,” Cramer said, likely referencing the emergency approvals for drugs such as Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir.

The restaurant industry has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly small and independent establishments. According to data from Yelp, as of Aug. 31, 32,109 U.S. restaurants had closed, about 61% permanently. 

Cramer has repeatedly urged Congress to provide robust support for restaurants and the U.S. economy overall during the pandemic, intensifying those calls recently as Democratic leaders and White House officials tried to strike a deal on additional coronavirus relief. 

While sympathizing with the struggles of small business owners, Cramer has acknowledged he has the financial means that most do not.

“Look, we were the last ones that tried it. There’s still a couple that were able to that have lots of outdoor space,” Cramer said Friday, referencing the expanded outdoor dining program in New York City. “But we are so not alone. I think about 50% of people are in our same situation.”

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