Neighborhood Dynamics and Pandemic Effect on Restaurant Closings in New York City

Qiyao Pan, Sociology

This paper examines and compares the relationship between neighborhood dynamics and restaurant closings in New York City in a pre-pandemic, pandemic and post-pandemic era. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous financial losses for businesses, and restaurant industry in New York City is a typical case. What are the spatial patterns of restaurant closings before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic? Which demographic, socioeconomic and mobility factors predict restaurant closings at neighborhood level? How does the impact of neighborhood dynamics differ in pre-pandemic, pandemic and post-pandemic closings? This study aims to answer these questions with a comparative analysis of restaurant closings in the three scenarios from 2019 to 2023. Restaurant data were obtained from New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Department of Transportation, and neighborhood typology and indices were developed using 2015-2019 American Community Survey. I apply global and local autocorrelation analysis to identify the existence of spatial clustering in restaurant closing patterns. I also use regression models to further examine whether ethnoracial, socioeconomic and mobility factors are related to the restaurant closing level. Preliminary results show that ethnoracial composition of a neighborhood was the most significant predictor for pre-pandemic closings, while mobility stood out as negative predictor for pandemic closings. I plan to extend my analysis to post-pandemic closings in 2023 to see if how the closing patterns have shifted over the pandemic era. Findings of this project will address the pandemic effect on the spatial patterns of restaurant closings, and the disparities in neighborhood context on restaurant performances in different eras.