Life in a small bakery in the middle of the coronavirus: open only 2 days a week and struggling to survive
Like many other small business owners, Jacqueline Eng wonders how long her store can still last amid the coronavirus pandemic.
His small batch bakery, Partybus Bakery, opened on New York’s Lower East Side shortly before Thanksgiving with a loan of $ 150,000 from the Small Business Administration.
She started with seasonal pies and natural sourdough sourdough breads, added pizzas and sandwiches for the lunch crowd, and hit her business plan – then the coronavirus hit China. People have stopped going to Manhattan’s Chinatown, about 7,500 miles from Wuhan.
Partybus Bakeshop, on the outskirts of the neighborhood, has also suffered. The expected recovery in sales in February, after the expected lull in January, never happened.
Even before New York to close all non-essential businesses on Sunday night, the ever-stricter rules for tackling the coronavirus meant it had to open twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday, for six hours at a time.
“That’s about all I can afford in terms of staff, assuming I’m making a few hundred dollars a day. Right now, I’m draining my finances.
Like others, she seeks help.
His business interruption insurance? “Unless the state forces the closure of food and beverage businesses, we cannot file a case. “
New York State has a website that touts plans to offer up to $ 6,000 in wage subsidies to businesses with five or fewer employees and $ 75,000 in low-interest loans for those under. 100 employees. But it has been going on for two weeks, with no way to apply and no new information, she said.
The SBA offers disaster relief loans, and they tried to do so, but the paperwork was just as complex as for their original loan, and this process took six to nine months. This time she gave up.
“By the time the money arrives, we would be closed,” she said.
Most commercial leases in New York can be canceled with 30 days notice if the tenant is not in default. But she would still have the loan, which she had used to dump what had been a frozen fish wholesaler with a walk-in freezer on the ground floor, buy equipment – a new deck oven costs $ 30,000. at $ 50,000 – and give herself a financial buffer that she’s already depleted.
“All of us little fish are busy crowdsourcing,” she said from her one-bedroom apartment two blocks from the Essex Street bakery. “Buy these gift cards at a reduced rate, and when we reopen, we’ll honor them.” Or buy our products.
The new rules to fight the coronavirus make sense, she says, but the restaurant industry feels left out of the conversation. She has a few suggestions for help – “even something as minimal as the deferral of quarterly payroll taxes,” which she says Washington politicians have spoken out against – or “there is a backlog of payments. evictions, but why not go further, like a month-long rent cut? “”
There is more risk than some companies. Small local businesses are what give a city its character, she said. Her own colorful store, named after her 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan which she said “really made me want to feed people and make more friends and family by feeding people,” had a 18 seat cafe and offered small group pastry classes.,
These disappeared and she stopped buying from her suppliers, some of whom are other small businesses. She now only takes orders for pickup, then leaves the food through the door open when the customer arrives, walks away, and the customer can then pick up the bag.
Within a half-mile radius of his store, all but three restaurants have already temporarily closed – and this is an area with seven to eight restaurants per block.
New York has become the shadow of the city that never sleeps.
Unlike the day after Hurricane Sandy, when lower Manhattan lost power, people cannot bring their grills to the streets and build community. Eng says that in his neighborhood people only go out to shop for groceries. The line to enter the nearby target recently extended around the block, and then there was the line that went around the store to reach the checkout line.
“Yes [small businesses] don’t get the support we need, we’re all going to disappear, ”she said.