COVID-19 restrictions made closing our NYC restaurant the only option

New York Post:

It was March when the first masked customer walked into our restaurant. As he pulled out a bottle of hand sanitizer from his jacket pocket, the woman he was with asked for a glass of hot water to sterilize her utensils. 

I looked at my husband, Jesse, and he looked at me. We both felt faint. 

When we opened 191 Knickerbocker together in 2018, it was the culmination of a dream. With over 25 years of experience as an executive chef, it felt right for Jesse to finally have his own place. But when we tried to get funding from the Small Business Administration, we were told restaurants were the only category that didn’t qualify for grants. We spoke to several banks and were told there were no loans for first-time restaurant owners. Statistics show that only 60 percent of restaurants survive their first year, and yet we were determined to pursue our goal. So, in 2017, we sold our co-op apartment in Queens for $250,000 to pay for a lease on a space in Bushwick and to renovate it according to our vision. 

More at The New York Post

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