From Krispy Kreme to Weed:
Inside 5 Businesses In Pandemic N.Y.
New Yorkers, it seems, still want to dine out, eat carbs and cheese, buy lipstick and get high (but maybe not).
The figures are staggering: since the coronavirus pandemic started, over 2800 companies have closed in New York City.
Yet there are signs of resilience as schools, gyms and museums reopen slowly. Even more shocking are the unusual new companies that have flourished in a less than ideal situation, such as the 4,500 square-foot Krispy Kreme shop in the tourist-lacking Times Square, where Broadway theaters are dark and hotels are largely vacant. Doughnut emporium, opened after a four-month delay in mid-September, regularly has hundreds of customers outside. They wait for the production line that can produce thousands of doughnuts every hour, not to mention the 24-inch glaze waterfall.
"Times Square returns. It's not Times Square we all know, but people are so excited and pleased to see us here, "said Sara Carvell, the new location manager. "I've seen people get really emotional to have somewhere to go to." After opening for just nine days, the store averaged around 1,000 customers a day.
Four other business owners and managers here share their stories about what it took during the pandemic, despite the uncertainties and obstacles.
'Restaurants Are Loving'
"We had to close all eight of our restaurants in March," said Amy Mascena, general manager of a Brooklyn restaurant consortium, including Bar Tano, a renowned Gowanus spot frequented by local artists and musicians.
But the greatest blow came when the restaurant group 's beloved co-owner, Peter Sclafani, died suddenly at the age of 54 in August. "He had cancer, but nobody wanted to know," Ms. Mascena said. "His heart yielded. It was terribly sad.
SweetTalk, a pop-up overtaking Bar Tano's patio, is dedicated to Mr. Sclafani. He and his partner, Kristen Hallett, left an impressive culinary footprint in Brooklyn, with Mr. Sclafani designing all the properties. SweetTalk's name is a reference to some graffiti painted on Bar Tano 's roof one night.
Steven Flynn, the company's executive chef, created the menu, an ode to his native Hawaii, and a departure from the typical Italian brand fare. "Nobody will fly to make it a tropical holiday experience. We carried several bamboo and palm trees, "Ms. Mascena said.
Mr. Sclafani spent his last weeks designing the interior, which opened when dining indoors returned on Sept. 30. Currently, 20 seats are still outside. "He'd like us to be available," Ms. Mascena said. "Restaurants are a labor of love," she said, noting how moving it was to see everyone back to work, from dishwasher to owners.
"New York's about hanging out with strangers. Sharing a wine bottle. We all lived Sept. 11. We don't want the city suffering. SweetTalk was born. And start over.
A Beauty Entrepreneur Into Warrior Mode
Ten years ago, Jessica Richards opened Shen Beauty, an independent makeup, cosmetics and skin care shop on Carroll Gardens' Court Street. She set her sights on a larger property eight blocks away last year to close the original location and open a new and improved one in April.
Construction began January. It stopped March. "When the world shut down, I felt I wasn't going forward, but I couldn't default on the loan," Richards said. "I furloughed my workers. I wasn't payrolling. So I went into warrior mode. "She had no choice but to persevere because she was so deep, she said.
The new 1,800 square-foot space opened on Sept. 1 offering 1500 items from 150 businesses, a lounge area, four treatment rooms and six-foot shelving. "Opening was very anxious," Ms. Richards said. "But our clients are loyal people. Seeing them spending money made me feel we'll make it.
There's a market for cannabis
"The pandemic postponed our original launch, April 20, which is a pretty major holiday for us," said Hillary Peckham, co-founder of Etain Health, a high-end cannabis dispensary chain that finally opened on East 58th Street in August after a minor pause in construction.
"Everything seemed impossible but not opening was unreasonable," Peckham said. "Providing patient care was the main motivator. I couldn't live with myself if we didn't.
The original 1,500 square-foot site of the shop on East 39th Street closed last July, expecting that the uptown flagship — all 5,000 square feet of it — would soon take its position north 19 streets. "The construction pause let us take another approach with the design to build a fresher feeling while accommodating people in case of a second wave," Peckham said.
The family-run business acted as a team, each person chipping in to help. Ms. Peckham's brother-in - law was responsible for light fixtures, while everyone else decorated and mounted wallpaper. "Seeing everyone supporting and working together was really encouraging," Peckham said.
Besides filling prescriptions, the dispensary provides demonstrations, presentations and lessons. During its opening month, Etain saw more than 800 patients. John Douglas, a faithful customer, lives blocks from the new store. "Having them here was a great surprise," he said. "It's so welcoming, pretty. I'd love to take off my mask, have coffee, and chill all day.
'Cheese Brings Pleasure'
Murray's cheese ...
Murray's Cheese is a name for many New Yorkers. Its newest location, a 2,500-square-foot restaurant, wine bar and cheese shop, opened in Long Island City, Queens, August.
Like other business openings for April, this one was postponed, but just a few months. "We were lucky," said 80-year-old company president Nick Tranchina. "We were near completion and recruited workers when the pandemic struck."
The May rebuilding decision was easy, Mr. Tranchina said. "We knew people wanted to go out, and we wanted to boost people's days. Cheese brings pleasure.
Outdoor room currently accommodates only five chairs. Not unexpectedly, demand was strong. "We're increasing our rooms," Mr. Tranchina said. "We've recruited more employees, expanded our hours, tightened the menu."
The pandemic pause, too, proved fruitful. "The delay gave us time to prepare our safety procedures," he said. "If we broke ground now, I'd consider stopping."