In anticipation of the gradual reopening of NYC’s businesses, Mayor Bill de Blasio has put together advisory councils — including a small business one with several restaurant owners.
The reopening strategy for the city’s independent restaurants and bars will be guided by the small business advisory council, led by NYC deputy mayors Vicki Been and Phil Thompson. There are ten industry-specific councils in total.
Of the 31 business owners and organization leaders appointed to the small business advisory council, restaurateurs and bar owners include Israel Valez of popular Bronx tamale shop City Tamale and Melba Wilson, owner of famed Harlem restaurant Melba’s and president of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
The advisors will act as “critical links” to guide the city’s officials on best reopening practices, the mayor’s office says. While some have speculated that operating restrictions like limited dining capacity and customer temperature checks could be the norm for NYC’s restaurants and bars during the reopening, there has yet to be official guidance from the mayor’s office on these measures. The small business advisory council will likely give input in deciding how operating restrictions will be rolled out.
Each member will also be responsible for disseminating information about the reopening among their local communities, according to the mayor’s office.
Jeffrey Garcia, the owner of French cafe Mon Amour Coffee and Wine in the Bronx and president of the New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association, and Anthony and Paul Ramirez, the co-owners of Bronx Beer Hall on Arthur Avenue, are also included on the small business advisory council.
Small businesses located in the Bronx have been particularly underrepresented in local financial aid disbursements throughout the crisis. Out of the $20 million in relief loans provided by NYC’s Small Business Services, Bronx business owners have received only $80,000, or about 1 percent of the total aid available, according to a Gothamist report.
Aside from restaurateurs, grocer Jason Ferreira of the Ferreira Foodtown supermarket chain in Queens and Long Island and Joanne Kwong of Asian emporium Pearl River Mart have been named to the council. Community business leaders including Wellington Chen of Manhattan’s Chinatown Partnership, Lourdes Zapata of SoBRO, the South Bronx economic development nonprofit, and Mohamed Attia, the executive director of the Street Vendors Project, are also on the list.
The presidents of all five boroughs’ chambers of commerce will sit on the council as well.
Each of the new councils, including the small business advisory council, will have an initial meeting by next week, de Blasio said in a press conference on May 6. “Their views, their questions, [and] their input are going to be used immediately in our restart planning, and then continue on as we build ahead towards recovery,” de Blasio said.
Here is the full list of the people appointed to the mayor’s small business advisory council:
1. Lourdes Zapata, SOBRO
2. Paul Storch, Summit Appliance
3. Israel Velez, City Tamale
4. Anthony and Paul Ramirez, Founders and Co-Owners, Bronx Beer Hall
5. Jeffrey Garcia, Mon Amour Coffee and Wine/President NYS Latino Restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association
6. Ramona Mejia, President and CEO, Sell-Mar Enterprise
7. Lisa Sorin, President, Bronx Chamber of Commerce
8. Julia Jean-Francois, Co-Director, Center for Family Life
9. Randy Peers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
10. Karen Mitchell, True Indian Hair
11. Quincy Ougi Theodore, Owner of Brooklyn Circus retailer
12. Wallace Ford, Medgar Evers College
13. Colvin Grannum, Bed Stuy Restoration
14. Mohamed Attia, Executive Director of the Street Vendors Project
15. Jo-Ann Yoo, Asian American Federation
16. Jessica Walker, President and CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
17. Limor Fried, Ada Fruit
18. Ken Giddon, Rothmans
19. Wellington Chen, Chinatown Partnership
20. Charles “Charlie” Tebele, Digital Gadgets
21. Joanne Kwong, Pearl River Mart
22. Edward Funches, InclusionTM
23. Melba Wilson, Melba’s
24. Tom Grech, Queens Chamber
25. Jason Ferreira, Ferreira Foodtown
26. John DiFazio, DiFazio Industries
27. Ceaser Claro, SIEDC
28. Linda Barron, SI Chamber of Commerce
29. Carrie White, GUM Studios
30. Noelle Santos, The Lit Bar
31. Aziz Hasan, Kickstarter