HL Clients Share Their Thoughts on the Future.

Originally Published : April 10, 2020

Let It Rip!

Dear HL Clients:

I’m in a very unique position that I get to talk to so many of you every day.  You tell me what’s on your mind and how you are feeling about things and taps me into the zeitgeist of the industry and the plight of restaurant and bar owners and gives me a handle on what is really happening out there.  

While I revel in this sense of community, I also realize that many of you don’t get to see each other nearly as often as you would like.  Sure, you stop in to a new opening, pop in the kitchen to say a quick hello but it’s so hard to find the time to really get into anything and have a real conversation. I know that can be frustrating.

So, for a little dose of camaraderie and compassion and to help you feel less boxed in by your apartment and your thoughts, we are taking it to the streets in tonight’s newsletter.  Just some NYC hospitality people, getting real and letting it rip

I asked this question:

How do you feel about the future of your business?

We’re feeling uncertain about the future of our business but are cautiously optimistic.  Right now everything is hinged on getting the PPP loan. If we don’t receive a  significant loan,  then brick & mortar won’t be an option for us moving forward. We are fighters & survivors. As soon as we see what the new landscape is we’ll pivot & move forward. 

-Ann Redding & Matt Danzer, Uncle Boon’s

I’m worried not just about my business, but about the way New York continues to function after this crisis. For a city that thrives on all of its dirty, jam packed, uncomfortable beauty, the threat of suburban safe sprawl changes the fabric of our daily life. People will continue to buy groceries and I’m very thankful for that. I’m glad people are cooking more and hopefully even pretty good at it! It’s just very hard to be optimistic about how this affects intimate restaurants, one of the main things that gives New York is romance and identity. 

– Brent Young, Meat Hook

I am not feeling great to be honest.  I am feeling very uncertain of what lies ahead and how we will overcome this as a community.   I feel that the landscape of independent restaurants has been forever changed and without a fundamental shift in our businesses models as a community I don’t see us being successful.  I, of course am going to do everything in my power to get things back up and running as well as we can, but it’s going to be a very different set of circumstances than what we’re used to. 

– Natalie Freihon, Fat Radish

While the duration of this crisis is still somewhat unknown we do know, with 100% certainty, that there will be an endpoint. Everyday between today and that eventual return to normal life presents challenges. However, our team has the tools and positive mindset to continue to do what we do best. We have introduced new menu items for families and have become even closer to the communities we serve.  For these reasons I am optimistic about the future of Mighty Quinn’s.

– Micha Magid, Mighty Quinn’s

Chi si ferma e perduto! 

– Jody Williams, Buvette

Well there is obviously a lot of uncertainty, but I believe we are well prepared for change and adapting our business to what ever lies in front of us. The experience has reminded us that we must stay nimble. We are looking towards the future with optimism but also preparing ourselves for inevitable change. I know this will change our approach to new dealings, and hopefully lend knowledge to some new and helpful tactics. Overall I believe our past hardships have prepared us for these hard challenges.

– Brandon Hoy, Roberta’s

I think we are going to do what it takes to make it work.  There are many hurdles ahead but we will cook and continue to push ourselves and the definition of what a chef does.

– Jeremiah Stone, Contra

I have the good fortune of being around incredibly smart people with hearts of gold-this alone will pull us through.  Couple that with a loyal customer base and in time (time being the operative word) we should be OK.

– Jay Strauss, Westville

Somewhat paralyzed.  Until we receive clarification on the PPP, until we know when we’ll reopen, until we know what the other government assistance will look like.  I don’t know what’s up or what’s down.

– Michelle Gauthier, Mulberry & Vine

I cannot wait to get back to work, we have spent this time sitting still with our businesses in contemplation of what was working and what wasn’t.  However, without  understanding guest demand levels we can’t even begin to plan a way back.  Here’s hoping New York comes back with a hunger and supports their small businesses. 

– John Fraser, The Loyal

We have gone through the typical stages of experiencing a massive crisis, then realizing we’re moving into a new normal.  Our events are all postponed, and our green roof construction projects are on hold. And of course restaurants and chefs were our core customer base for our vegetables. Watching the whole industry shuttered overnight was gut wrenching. But, despite significant struggles right now, we are optimistic that we can pivot our vegetable sales directly to consumers’ kitchens, that people will want to come out to the roof for some events in the fresh air once the situation starts to loosen up, and that we will continue to build green infrastructure in NYC.  

We feel a significant realization from the community (some of whom may have started to forget!!!) that it’s critical to support local businesses and our regional economies, and major societal events like this can help remind us.  So, we will ride this out, we’re going to grow a lot of vegetables this summer, and we very much look forward to the day when we can serve chefs and restaurants again

– Ben Flanner, Brooklyn Grange

It’s hard to say exactly how I feel about the future of my business because of how much uncertainty still exists. Mostly I’m focusing on not wasting energy stressing out about it in an unproductive way. While still pursuing things like the PPP loan, Im trying to accept that this isn’t a situation that can be controlled. Obviously we will all have to be making a lot of changes to stay profitable, and personally I’m not interested in a take out/delivery based model, so for me its a wait and see situation. Whatever happens, there will be an opportunity to make money some way or another after this ends.

– Nick Padilla, Alameda

Feeling confident that’s it all gonna work itself out, hopefully we will make it through this with the support of the banks and the government, we’re resilient  New Yorkers we’re gonna keep on trucking on. 

– David Foulquier, Sushi Noz

I am very concerned about being saddled with debt when we can finally reopen unless the government arranges for rent forgiveness ASAP. The government has to give landlords relief via their banks or only restaurants that own their buildings are going to be viable. All of the relief that is being given is going to employees because they represent far more votes than restaurant owners do. 

– Paulie Gee

I was making jello shots in plastic eggs for our Easter Brunch Menu! 
 I know we will survive all of this.  We are smart, nimble and treating this like the true battle it is.  Yes, of course this is a massive financial blow, but, as my business partner said last week… “Who knew Lauren was preparing us for a pandemic all of these years.”  Ha.. 

I am more concerned about how this is going to impact the future of this industry as a whole.  More rules, more regulations, more oversight, etc. 

– Lauren Lynch, Harlem Public

As you can see, we are all in the shit together and we all care about each other and our industry.  Reach out to a hospitality friend this weekend and say hi.  You’ll be glad you did.

Good Night and Good Weekend,


P.S. Joey Regs wanted to say:

I know this isn’t a huge chunk of money, but it is something.  For anyone that qualifies, The Red Backpack Fund is providing some grant money for female entrepreneurs.  Here are the deets: 

From what we understand, they’re taking 1000 applications, and doling out up to $5k each