Pieces Of NYC We Lost In 2020: Coronavirus Ravages Businesses

Matt Troutman

NEW YORK CITY — A simple list can’t contain all the things the New Yorkers lost in the coronavirus pandemic.

We lost our jobs, our offices and the subway commutes we loved to gripe about.

As our homes became our workplaces and our schools, we lost our sanctuaries. Our museums, our theaters and our city institutions temporarily closed their doors, leaving us stranded in a bleak world without art and culture.

And we lost our neighbors and our loved ones.

The list goes on — it encompasses the life of New York City before 2020, during the pandemic and the empty spaces left behind long after the year draws to a close.

The city lost businesses at a furious, tragic pace in 2020 as well. The closures — which experts fear could encompass a third of small businesses in the city — left vacant storefronts in neighborhoods.

The pandemic showed business isn’t all about dollars and cents.

Here’s a small sample of what businesses New Yorkers and their city lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hotels

A hotel isn’t inherently part of daily life for New Yorkers, but they’re a symbol what draws visitors to the city.

The coronavirus pandemic slowed the flow of tourists to a trickle, at best, and left hotels struggling. Amid the drought, the Roosevelt Hotel closed its doors after 96 years in Midtown.

The building will remain a fixture of the Midtown skyline just east of Madison Avenue. But its storied history — in 1948 it served as the election headquarters for New York Governor Thomas Dewey, where he prematurely and incorrectly announced on election night that he had defeated incumbent President Harry S. Truman — will end.

Other big-name hotels like the Times Square Hilton and Omni Berkshire Place closed their doors for good because of economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Restaurants

Obituaries for eateries that were casualties to COVID-19 are depressingly numerous.

Publications from Eater to Curbed have catalogued the losses in lists stretching down webpages. For many, if not most, restaurants, the closures were the final stage in a slow death that started when indoor dining closed abruptly in March by government decree.

Outdoor dining provided a lifeline for eateries until limited indoor dining returned, but many didn’t survive. The NYC Hospitality Alliance warned after indoor dining was shut down again that more than half of restaurants could close.

Restaurants that closed included the iconic 21 Club, an establishment bedecked with jockey statues. Nearby, the barbecue restaurant-jazz club Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard closed as well. Not even McDonalds escaped the last call — a four-story Mickey D’s in Times Square shut down.

And that’s just in Midtown.

Caridad no longer offered its melting pot, egg-foo-young-followed-by-cafe-con-leche mix of Cuban and Chinese to the Upper West Side. Queens Comfort in Astoria served up its last brunch, as did Jack & Nellie’s in Forest Hills. Dizzy’s Diner in Park Slope, a neighborhood favorite, no longer offered its cool comfort.

The list goes on — everyone in New York City lost a place in their hearts and stomachs.

Watering Holes

Bars struggled for the same reason restaurants did — coronavirus restrictions.

But for some communities the loss was even greater. Bars like Coogan’s — the “‘Cheers’ of Washington Heights” — were neighborhood meeting places and repositories of shared, if sometimes hazy, memories.

They were, yes, places where everyone knew your name.

"Coogan's was a public house, a meeting place, a table to break bread and solve problems," its owners wrote on Facebook. "...We were people of different races, creeds and ideas, all with the same dream to be secure and love."

From the pandemic’s early days, bar patrons ponied up money to keep their watering holes afloat. But the pandemic tide was too for strong places like Franklin Park beer garden in Crown Heights or 200 Fifth in Park Slope.

So raise a glass, New York City. Let’s hope 2021 brings better tidings.

Do you have a favorite business that closed? Let us know in the comments.

This article originally appeared on the New York City Patch