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COVID-19 Eating Away at Nyack Restaurants

by Miah Barrow

This month, New York gradually re-opens. Safety protocols, like wearing masks and maintaining necessary distance, have become second-nature for most of us. And the number of new cases and COVID-19-caused deaths have steadily declined. Rockland County — which is in Phase One of the NYS Forward program — limits restaurants to “operations … necessary to provide take-out or delivery services.” Local restaurants continue to bear the costs of this new normal — and they face an uncertain future.

“Completely devastating”…”business off by 50%”…”daily deep cleaning like annual spring cleaning”…”learning curve” are some of the responses from Nyack small restaurant owners when asked how the pandemic has impacted their businesses.

“It’s a struggle to go through all of this. Every day is a new day and we don’t know what to expect,” says Nausil Kumandan, owner of Indian restaurant Mumbai Dreams.

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The transition from full service to exclusively take-out and delivery hasn’t been easy. Maura’s Kitchen closed for several days to regroup and to modify its menu. Maura Azanedo, co- owner of the latin bistro with her son Tyrone, was in quarantine for several weeks to ensure she stayed safe.

Businesses have learned to adapt to the new normal–and quickly. DPNB Pasta and Provisions owners Louiedell and Tony Scotto created an online store to help customers visualize the menu and to pay online. “It was definitely a learning curve, something we’ve never done before. We learned on the fly out of necessity,” Scotto says.

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Casa Del Sol owner Tom Lynch says the pandemic has been “completely devastating” to his Main Street Mexican restaurant and live music venue. “This should be our busy season and that’s clearly not the case. We lost a street fair a few weeks ago and Cinco de Mayo, which are two of our biggest days of the year.”

The Hudson House should be observing its 30-year anniversary this year, but co-owner Matt Hudson isn’t seeing a lot of reasons to celebrate. “Until people are comfortable being in crowds again we’re not going to be getting large crowds,” he says. After temporarily closing for two months, Hudson House is now open  for takeout.

While many restaurant workers have been let go, those fortunate enough to still be working have also been impacted by a considerable decrease in hours while working hard to help keep businesses open. “Business has decreased by fifty percent,” says Cheryl Baun, owner of the Filipino-inspired restaurant Karenderya. “We had to let our employees go, and we are almost exclusively a mom-and-pop operation right now.”

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Even with reduced staff and hours, our local restaurants are taking the time and necessary measures to ensure the workplace stays safe–allowing a limited number of customers in at a time, wearing masks and gloves, and persistently cleaning and sanitizing surfaces. “We take two days (Monday and Tuesday) to do a thorough deep cleaning, almost like a spring cleaning,” says 8 North Broadway owner and chef, Constantine Kalandranis. “Everything gets taken out, wiped down, and bleached. And there are sanitizers all over the restaurant.”

Although Small Business Association programs like EIDL and the Paycheck Protection Program can provide temporary assistance, Nyack’s business owners say they need loan forgiveness, rent freezes, and mortgage deferrals to get them back on their feet. “If we do not see these things happen, many restaurants and other small businesses simply will not survive,” says Karenderya’s Cheryl Baun. “What makes Nyack and other small towns unique will be lost.” Baun’s been gratified to see the community do what it can to help Main Street and Broadway businesses weather this storm. “It’s been incredible to see the support from individuals in the community. Frankly, it has been regular people that have been keeping us all afloat.”

The new normal still hasn’t quite sunk in. “It’s just weird. It’s crazy to think about how we’re doing business now,” says Bernard Bohunicky, a manager of the Art Cafe. “Months ago, no one could have predicted that this would be the new normal. But as a community, we will continue to adjust and move forward, taking things one day at a time.”

Miah Barrow is a senior at Nyack High School.

Eateries mention in this article are included below. For a full list of Nyack area restaurants offering take out, read Don’t Cook Tonight, Order Nyack Takeout, Instead! 

Restaurant owners: We have more than 38,000 reasons each month to help make your takeout and delivery business top of mind with Nyack area residents (Google Analytics, May 1-30, 2020). Email to advertise your business on NyackNewsAndViews.

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