Another beloved small business has closed in the wake of COVID-19. Jimmy’s Diner (577 Union Ave.) announced this month that the local restaurant would close for good. And yes, “The pandemic is absolutely the reason we closed,” says Blair Papagani, owner of Jimmy’s Diner.
Jimmy’s diner paused service in mid-March, when Governor Cuomo put New York State on PAUSE. “I had no doubt we would reopen,” says Papagani. At the time, she was beginning remote learning with her three kids, and assumed this closure would only last a few weeks. “In the first two weeks of being closed, we watched, like everyone else, I’m sure, the stories on the news of healthcare workers overwhelmed by the huge influx of patients into hospitals on a daily basis,” Papagani recalls. “We wanted to help and do what we had always done: Feed people.” Jimmy’s partnered with North Brooklyn Angels to produce 450 meals a day for Woodhull Hospital healthcare workers and military personnel stationed there. This continued for eight weeks until the need subsided. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep Jimmy’s in business.
In early June, when became clear to Papagani that indoor dining was not going to be returning to normal anytime soon, it was time to make some tough decisions. “Jimmy’s is located on a busy stretch of Union Avenue and our sidewalk is quite small. The idea of outdoor dining never seemed feasible to me,” Papagani says. “On a good day, when the world was a different place, Jimmy’s maxed out at 26 seats, eleven counter seats and fifteen table seats. When indoor dining returns we would not have been able to seat the counter and spacing people out would mean a maximum of 10 people seated at a time, if we were lucky. After thirteen years, it was no longer economically possible to stay open. Delivery is not profitable enough for us to rely on and the takeout market is super saturated right now. I mean, even Peter Luger is doing takeout.”
The North Brooklyn Angels launched a new initiative this week to help laid off restaurant workers and front line health care heroes. The “Neighbors Feeding Heroes” crowdfunding campaign began accepting donations on Wednesday morning with more than $650 raised so far.
The non-profit, volunteer-powered soup kitchen regularly serves freshly prepared meals for free throughout Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bushwick in the “Angelmobile” with help from a production kitchen at Our Lady Mount Carmel Church (275 N 8th St.).
The new initiative provides workers at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens with breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days per week during the coronavirus crisis, with a kitchen team operating out of Jimmy’s Dinner (577 Union Ave.).
“The great thing that we’ve done is to put restaurant workers back to work in a safe way and we’re starting with 100 meal three times per day, Manny Howard spokesperson for the North Brooklyn Angels said. “And then, as their capacity to accept these meals grows and our capacity to produce grows, we’ll definitely put that number up. And with any luck we’ll be able to hire more restaurant workers.”
Greenpoint restauranteurs and married couple Blair Papagni and Josh Cohen are offering pay-what-you-can hot meals for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, as the issue of food insecurity worries freshly out of work people in the service sector.
“As we get further into this shutdown I think it’s going to be more difficult to get hot meals. We’re a city built on people that go out to eat, so I think there’s a good portion of our younger population here that probably doesn’t cook often, and then we have our older population that maybe can’t get out,” Papagni said. Continue reading →
Restaurants come and restaurants go with increasing regularity—I’m personally still mourning the loss of Lomzynianka. And 2016 didn’t go out without a few shocks to our neighborhood restaurant scene. Some beloved spots quietly served their last meals and closed up shop while we were all busy celebrating the holidays. On the bright side, more than a few new places have opened last year like Greenpoint Avenue’s Hail Mary, Cherry Point with its excellent charcuterie, high-end Leuca in the William Vale, River Styx transformed into 21 Greenpoint, and now we have two fried chicken joints with Brooklyn Star in the Brooklyn Night Bazaar and Pretty Southern on Bedford Ave. Plus at least one big one, A/D/O, is on the way, and they are all ready to comfort our souls over the losses. Continue reading →
If the landslide victory in Ireland is any indication the movement for gay rights is finally getting the respect it deserves, North Brooklyn will continue to carry that torch this June by hosting a gay pride festival in Williamsburg. While a gay pride event is nothing new for Chelsea or Jackson Heights, hosts of some of the most fabulicious gay pride celebrations in the city, North Brooklyn business owners and the LGBT community felt it was high time the area had its own celebration.
And anyone who knows Williamsburg, knows this is going to be one affair to remember.
In this most recent Veggie Burgers Diaries, we visited Jimmy’s Diner on Franklin St. There aren’t a ton of lunch options in the area, so we figured we’d give it a shot and try the Black Bean Burger. Plus Gina and I had some talking to do about moving into a new space – an exciting but mentally draining ordeal for my brain. Continue reading →
Greenpoint, you are so spoiled! Now it will be even more difficult to figure out where to go for dinner or a cocktail because there has been an explosion of new places! Can’t keep up? Here is a brief rundown of all the open and soon to be open bars, restaurants and coffee shops in the hood. It’s kind of insane, right?! Let us know in the comments if you have tried any of the new places and what you think. Stay tuned for in depth reviews!
Officially Open in Greenpoint:
Achilles Heel (180 West St) We saw it finally opened on Instagram via @mfade. Tarlow considered the history of the Greenpoint waterfront when he designed the menu and space. According to Grub Street, Achilles Heel is “a café and bar meant to evoke the always-open grocery and drinking spot that once sustained Greenpoint dockworkers at its West Street address between 1900 and 1960.” Grab a coffee and a fresh snack sourced from Marlow & Daughters on your way to the Ferry and enjoy an afternoon Hemingway Daiquiri or a glass of wine near the piano after a long day at the office. Coming soon… a New England Style Clam Chowdah!
Torst (615 Manhattan Ave) A fancy beer bar for beer nerds. This spot was great for an after work beer and a delicious cheese plate. The beer list is extensive and the tapping system is state of the art. As described on Gothamist: “Tørst offers a selection of 21 draft and 200 bottled beers, including rare, international brews not seen before now in the States … the guys installed a custom-built draught system called the Flux Capacitor, which allows individual draft lines to be temperature and pressure customized for specific beers, plus a system that allows for four different temperature controls.” Like I said, it’s for beer nerds.
Jimmy’s Diner (92 Calyer St) Formerly Calyer, Jimmy’s Diner #2 has opened up literally overnight! This photo sent to me by Paulie Gee. The menu will be similar to the Union Ave location. Get ready for mac n’ cheese, fried chicken and perhaps some key lime pie?!
Spina (107 Franklin St) It’s a flower shop slash coffee shop and get this -the coffee is BLUE BOTTLE! Spina’s main business is social event planning, but after a visit to Italy and San Francisco, owner Paul Tsang and his partner Vanessa Chinga-Haven decided to start serving coffee in the new Franklin St space because, “coffee is aromatic and flowers are aromatic,” Paul told Greenpointers. How lovely. Continue reading →