All businesses have had to make adjustments to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic and locally owned businesses have been especially hard hit, forcing many to close.

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For many restaurants, that has meant an increase in take-out dining, and fewer customers in-house. One local business owner, Sal Borruso of Chesterfield's Tavolo on North Genesee Street in Utica, is grateful for an executive order on the local level that is helping his him stay afloat. It came from Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and has temporarily capped the fees charged by third-party food service providers like Grubhub, Uber Eats and Door Dash.

''During the pandemic, as we were closed down and open for 'to-go' only, unfortunately Door Dash and Uber Eats, and all the food delivery services, they were taking 30% of our revenue,'' Borruso said during the press event. ''So, we were almost working and open just to keep my employees going. I was literally brining my employees in, we're paying the food guys, we're paying the workers and we weren't making a nickel on most 'to-go' orders because 30% was coming off the top.''

Picente's February 2, 2021 executive order prohibits third-party delivery services from charging more than 15% to businesses, and caps the fee for customers at 5%, excluding taxes, gratuity and other fees, like credit card fees.

''That was huge,'' Borruso said. ''Mr. Picente fought for us to get that reduced down to 15-percent. And, I don't think all the restaurants know that, and they can get that back from these delivery services.''

The county executive said the large third-party fees, coupled with COVID-19 restrictions, were threatening the economic viability of local restaurants.

Picente's executive order is temporary, and must be renewed every five days.

Borruso's comments came Monday morning outside of his Chesterfield's Tavolo, during a visit from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Schumer was in town and met with Picente and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri to talk about the Restaurants Act - which will provide local governments with economic stimulus grants to awarded to local businesses.


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