Coronavirus has affected the whole world. Many New Yorkers stayed inside, quarantined, for too many months. Not only has it affected us, it has affected our communities and neighborhoods. Our local restaurants, shops, and cafes have all suffered. Because of coronavirus they were forced to close down, causing a major setback in their businesses. Because they couldn’t open up, many people lost income and jobs. All around NYC stores haven’t opened up. They’re vacant. If you look at Madison Avenue you can see the once filled stores, empty, boarded up.
We’ve all been through a lot with coronavirus; our communities have been through a lot. We should do things to help unify the community, whether it’s going out to support your local restaurants, or telling others about businesses that you want to help. I started by talking to one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Match 65 Brasserie, home to my favorite truffles fries and french onion soup.
I talked to Tik and Flavia, who work at Match 65. I asked them about Match’s experience with the pandemic. Match 65 had shut down in March, when Mayor Bill de Blasio required restaurants to only provide takeout and pickup, and they followed these guidelines until June/July. They told me that in March and April they had lost 75% of their revenue. They were closed for three months: March, April, and May. These are some of the most crucial months for restaurants’ livelihoods.
When they opened up again, they had to adjust to the new guidelines and expectations required to protect citizens from the virus. Like any other restaurant, it has had its challenges. In this new world, it is essential to have outdoor seating. Unlike other restaurants, Match 65 didn’t get permission from the city to build structures for their outdoor seating because there was a street sign, “No Standing Anytime” in front of their restaurant.
Daniel, a restaurant across from them, has been able to make big structures for outdoor seating. It goes to show the random nature of which restaurants were lucky enough to have outdoor space they can use. This created a whole new set of worries and problems for Match. Is it going to rain today? What will we do in the winter? When Match 65 tried to make the outdoor seating more versatile, neighbors complained. They said “the sidewalk is too narrow now!” and “the umbrella will poke me!” while Match 65 was trying to do their best to adapt to the new circumstances.
When I asked Tik and Flavia if they had anything to say to the community, one of the things was “Thank you to all the older ladies and gentlemen who we deliver to.” During hard times, good had emerged. New relationships formed. During the pandemic everyone was struggling, especially the elderly. During the coronavirus the elderly and at-risk people were advised to stay home. This created a challenge for the vulnerable group to get meals and food. Match 65 was there for them. Relationships came out of this; the restaurant knew that Ms. Rosenberg liked to talk to Giulia on the phone, that she didn’t like salt on her hamburger and fries. Both depended on each other; Match 65 needed their business to survive, and the elderly were so grateful that they were open and that they knew them personally.
I asked Match 65 if they remembered any amazing gestures from the community. They said customers had bought gift cards from Match 65 during the pandemic. These gift cards helped Match 65 get through the pandemic. Along with this innovative way of earning money, Match 65 has come up with a new way for online tipping. For those who want to give extra can add to their online bill with an extra tip. You can add a (6ft Away) High Five which adds a $15 tip to your online bill. You have many options, an Air Hug, Thumbs Up, and Wave, all of varying prices, although this is all voluntary and Match 65 has not added a COVID surcharge.
While this restaurant is worried about its survival, their experience shows that in the end human relationships are what is going to get us through this pandemic.
Sarah Bae is a seventh-grader in Manhattan.