How Small Businesses are Adapting to the Pandemic

The crew at Manhattan’s Jacques Brasserie.

Working in a small business has been challenging for many workers and owners and many are trying new things to adapt and remain successful in this crazy year of quarantine. According to an article in The New York Times, more than 3,000 small businesses in NYC have already closed due to the pandemic.

One of the many businesses that has had to adapt to accommodate the needs of the city and people is the restaurant business.

Jacques Brasserie, in Manhattan has been a neighborhood favorite for upwards of 25 years. 

Owner Jacques Ouari has been around for a long time and has adapted in many different situations throughout his 25 years of owning and managing the restaurant. He has a substantial amount of experience and knowledge and stated that many of the new challenges during Coronavirus times were obviously unprecedented and to adapt he needed to think on his feet as well as observe other restaurants around the city. 

One of the many challenges he said was making people happy and comfortable when eating outside during the winter months, especially.

“When it is cold, the clients don’t come. When it rains, the clients don’t come. And when it is really cold, the clients come, eat fast and go home really early,” Jacques said.

He also said that there are extra expenses being made between butane for heaters or wood for the outdoor dining setup which could be costly at times but he hopes it is worth it.

Although, Jacques was able to adapt to a lot of these challenges he faced in the past few months, he says a new challenge will be cutting hours of employees to save money if the restaurant is not busy.

Another person who has had to deal with a lot of these challenges and problems on the spot is Jacques Brasserie restaurant manager, Joe Calvo. Joe said that his greatest challenge was making sure to follow the city guidelines and avoid getting any permits taken away or shut down.

“The approach that we have is to have all the rules and everything that the city dictates involving Covid and everything involved with the pandemic. We’ve been trying to follow all the rules and those little details is what the people see at the end. They see we are trying to sanitize everything and put dividers in between the tables and they feel secure which is the first goal,” Joe said. 

Many of the challenges that this restaurant faced is what many other restaurants are facing right now and many are closing around NYC due to this pandemic, but Jacques is still able to maintain his customer base and provide a safe and fun experience for customers even if it is not what they are accustomed to and Mr. Ouari is a prime example of adapting and persevering to survive in this city.

– by Noah Ouari, 21 

Editor’s note: Noah Ouari interviewed his father, Jacques Ouari, for this article.