Yan Min Kitchen on East Main Street in East Islip is experiencing a sharp decline in business since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Sue Huang, a manager at the Chinese restaurant, said that there have been days that have resulted in an 80 percent reduction in sales.
Huang said she recently has been speaking with owners of other Chinese restaurants in the area. “When the coronavirus was coming at the beginning, we called each night. We asked if the business was good, and they said they went down by 50 percent, too,” she said, contin ing on to emphasize this is not an isolated incident. “It’s not just us.” Huang went on to say that she has brought food outside the storefront to customers and has been asked if she is feeling “okay,” or not ill. “I would say yes,” Huang said. “My family is Chinese. Most [of my customers] know I have been here for a few years and don’t go back to China.”
When asked if she thought it was a racial issue, she said that she believes the residents of the area are not acting maliciously, adding that people may express prejudice in other locations but people here are typically quite nice.
“And they are still scared to come in here, a Chinese restaurant,” she said, adding that her regular customers who are older in age are now refraining from ordering takeout at Yan Min.
Huang assured that employees always work sanitarily and do not hesitate to inform a manager if they are sick, and said that there is currently extreme emphasis in those regards, considering the coronavirus outbreak.
East Islip Chamber of Commerce president Gary Teich expressed that Yan Min Kitchen’s situation is upsetting, as success of local business is a main focus for the chamber and is also in the best interest of East Islip residents.
The flower shop on Higbie Lane has experienced bar- riers for business, as foot traffic in general is dwindling and events are being canceled.
“It’s a little scary for people. It is keeping more people at home,” said owner Tom Francoeur, continuing on to say that many upcoming events relevant to his sales are canceling. “Some nursing homes and hospitals are no longer receiving my product, [considering their restric- tions.] Brides are worried they may not have their event in the upcoming month.”
Francouer said that the business’ income is being impacted, yet sales are still satisfactory. He expressed concern, however, that some of the product already purchased may go to waste.
“If it continues, I can see spoils coming. For now, though, we’re okay,” Francouer said. “I’m going to buy carefully and tight.”
As of Monday night, all restaurants and bars across the tri-state area were mandated to shut down aside from takeout and delivery, in consideration of the potential spread of coronavirus. Drew Dvorkin, the owner of Local Burger, Linwood, TJ Finley’s and The Penny Pub, had much to say regarding how his 200-plus employees and customers will be impacted. Among those aspects, he expressed concern for the restaurant business in general.
“We have to be very clear-eyed about what’s going on — we are in the ‘people business’ and social separation, while necessary, is going to be the final nail in the coffin for many operators,” Dvorkin said, continuing on to express the general financial frustration for individuals within the restaurant business considering an indefinite shutdown for the industry. “Many of our employees are living check to check and are looking for direction. I feel it’s my obligation to help them, but I’m not quite sure what to tell them.”
Opening his first restaurant, The Dead Poet, in Upper West Side Manhattan in 2000, Dvorkin said he has yet to experience a disruption of this magnitude.
“We survived blackouts, 9/11, and Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “But this was unprecedented. These are murky waters to navigate, and we need more direction from our elected officials.”
Dvorkin pointed out that Suffolk and Nassau counties have yet to be listed as affected areas eligible for federal aid, which he explicitly expressed is problematic since tens of thousands of employees are now out of the job in New York alone.
The hardware store on Main Street is swiftly running out of paper products, hand sanitizer and dust masks — as are most stores that supply those goods. Doug Hayes, the owner of the store, expressed that everything else is mostly available.
“The normal day-to-day stuff is coming in,” Hayes said, on Friday morning.