Because of the density and diversity of its population and many business visitors and vacationers, there are few places in the world that offer such a variety of cuisines and provide great dining at all hours.

Wholesalers report strong foodservice business.

“Manhattan is jumping,” said Joe Palumbo, chief executive officer of New York-based Top Banana LLC and co-chairman of the Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx. “The restaurants are doing well.”

Top Banana distributes a full line of tropical produce.

New York’s many restaurants remain busy, distributors report.

“Anytime I go into a steakhouse or Italian restaurant in Manhattan, things are busy,” said Jeff Young, a fruit buyer for A&J Produce Corp., New York.

“Due to its sheer volume of people and diversity of the population, the restaurants of course are affected by the economy, but New York has always been insulated a little.

“Even if people lessen their frequencies and take turns eating out, it will still be busy. The amount of people eating in this area is mind boggling.”

Sales to foodservice purveyors remains strong, said Bruce Klein, director of marketing for Secaucus N.J.-based Maurice A. Auerbach Inc.

“Their sales are healthy, and they look at the units they move,” he said. “I think you see the middle-of-the-road restaurants — the Houlihan’s, the Friday’s, the Cheesecake Factories — they’re doing better than the really upscale restaurants. People have stepped up a little but not to the white tablecloth restaurants, which could use some more business.”

Extremely competitive

New York’s restaurant scene remains busy as restaurants compete for diners’ dollars, said Mike Muzyk, president of Baldor Specialty Foods Inc., New York.

“It’s extremely competitive,” he said.

Muzyk cited statistics that show out of five restaurants that open in the region in one year, three will close during the first year. Of the two that survive, one of them will close within five years.

“One in five in five years, that’s difficult,” he said. “Who wants to sign up for that? But we do see multiple units, maybe not under the same brand but under the same umbrella.”

New York’s restaurants are doing well, said Joel Panagakos, a salesman for Holtsville, N.Y.-based J. Kings Foodservice Professionals Inc.

“The restaurants are busy,” he said. “They’ve recovered since the start of the recession. What’s happened is some of the weaker units have gone by the wayside while the larger ones have grown.”

Picking up

After the ending of the severe winter storms, sales to the foodservice purveyors that serve New York’s restaurants are increasing, said Alfie Badalamenti, vice president of Coosemans New York Inc.

The constant barrage of snow, ice and extreme cold weather stalled business, he said.

The spring holidays as well as events including school graduations and Mother’s Day are helping lift sales, Badalamenti said.

“Business is picking up and the weather is much better,” he said in mid-May. “The city is getting busier, and demand is much better. The restaurants are busier, and foodservice purveyors are buying more.”

Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., said he goes out to restaurants all the time and sees strong activity.

Restaurants not hurting

“The restaurants are certainly not hurting,” D’Arrigo said. “In 2008 and 2009, the restaurant business took a pretty big hit. I can almost say they’re recovered. Maybe they’re not back to where they were, but you don’t really hear that much lately about the restaurants and their troubles covering themselves.”

A series of snowstorms and ice discouraged people from leaving their homes and patronizing restaurants, making the year a challenging one for restaurants, said Mike Cochran, sales manager and vice president of Robert T. Cochran & Co. Inc., New York.
“Restaurant sales have been pretty good but the snowstorms really affected their business,” he said.
“People aren’t going to go out and drive if they don’t have to. Their sales have been decent otherwise.”