One Year Later: Five NYC Business Owners on Their Pandemic Pivots
The people behind some of the city's most beloved shops, restaurants and studios share exciting new projects
Over the past year, COVID has absolutely devastated the small business landscape around New York. For every place that a GoFundMe saved, a handful more had to close up shop.
Curbed has an exhaustive but still incomplete list of beloved New York restaurants and emporia that had to close up over the last year and it runs 500 deep, the oldest of which was founded in the 1800s. Make sure to support your favorite local spots while you can.
Many of the folks behind these venues, by nature, are entrepreneurs and hustlers, so a good few of them are already on to their next project. We spoke with five such people about what they are currently working on and how you can support them moving forward.
Marc Razo, Partner, Max Fish
“Max Fish was opened in 1989 at 178 Ludlow Street by Ulli Rimkus. It was one of the first bars to open on Ludlow St. on the Lower East Side. It had a giant cult following all through the ‘90s all the way to the present day. In 2014 the bar moved around the corner from its original location to 120 Orchard St.
Sadly we closed our location on 120 Orchard St. in August 2020 due to COVID-19 hardships. We have kept our business somewhat intact and our social media running with a web-store attached. We’ve been selling merch, working on collaborations with other companies, working on events, and just started a show on Vans’ new media channel. We’re doing our best to hold on to what we hold most dear to hopefully raise enough money to get back on our feet and open our bar/venue space back up.
Last month we started selling some of our merch at Judi Rosen NYC located at 198b Elizabeth St. Judi is a good friend and long time local at the Fish.”
Camilla Marcus, Owner, West~Bourne
“West~bourne’s most recent evolution is our General Store, a collection of housemade provisions and home goods guided by the same philosophy that drives everything we do: we can eat and drink well, and do even better for our planet. From our togarashi crunch to pistachio dukkah, everything we make is plant-based and sustainably minded, designed to bring out the power of vegetables and with all reusable or compostable packaging. As a Los Angeles native, my hope is to bring a little bit of that California mindset, that centers community and draws inspiration from flavors around the world, to pantries across the country, from coast to coast.”
Loren Cronk, Owner, Loren Denim
“Before I had to permanently close my store in Greenpoint, I moved to L.A. and would travel back and forth. I wanted to open a store in L.A. as well. After COVID, those plans ended. I lost my denim brand and my store and the creative director position I had. It’s been challenging for so many people I know. I still haven’t totally figured out what I’m going to do, but I did set up a small sewing studio in Topanga, California, where I’m continuing to do denim repair, mostly for locals out here. It’s been nice to get back on the machines. Back in New York my main seamstress, Emma, has been continuing to offer custom and denim repair for our local Brooklyn and New York customers. I’m also picking up construction work on the side to make ends meet. I do believe good things are in the future … so I’m just keeping things rolling along.” (Editor’s Note: you can reach Loren at email@example.com if you need.)
Sohui Kim, Owner, The Good Fork
“Our businesses, like so many others in our industry, have taken many twists and turns over the past year. We had spent years working towards the grand reopening of Downtown Brooklyn’s historic oyster and chop house, Gage & Tollner, with an ill-fated (and consequently indefinitely postponed) opening date set for March 15, 2020, and unfortunately we had to close our beloved neighborhood restaurant, The Good Fork, in the summer of 2020. Since then, my husband and business partner, Ben Schneider, and I took on a number of fun, interesting passion projects with friends old and new. I worked as a consultant chef with Misfit Foods to develop a delicious beef-beet gochujang mix, Ben used his expert skills to help with the build and design of a new restaurant called Victor that our friends Ian Alvarez and Ryan Angulo just opened, and just a few weeks ago we began hosting Mr. Lee’s — a Chinese-American takeout pop-up from our friend and Insa/Good Fork protégé, Leland Yu — out of The Good Fork space.
Now, we are finally back at Gage & Tollner gearing up for the grand re-reopening of this incredible restaurant that means so much to so many people, ourselves included. We can’t wait to finally welcome guests into this beautiful, landmarked dining room and experience what we’ve been working towards!”
Virginia Elwood, Saved Tattoo
“After my wife Stephanie and I closed Saved Tattoo (due to landlord issues and COVID), we decided to open a cooperative private tattoo and art studio. We found a space in Greenpoint with our former Saved co-worker Sophie C’est La Vie. We named it This Time Tmrw, after The Kinks song about transitions and moving on. Justin Weatherholtz joined us in Nov of 2020 and we are eagerly waiting for it to be safe enough to have guest artists come work with us! Our location is This Time Tmrw 67 West Street #232 Brooklyn NY 11222, and our instagram handles are @this.time.tmrw, @virginiaelwood, @virginiaelwoodstudio, @stephanietamez, @sophiec’estlavie and @justinweatherholtz.”
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