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Midtown Restaurants Hope Business Picks Up as Barricades at Trump Tower Come Down

Plus, two Mexican pop-up restaurants to try this week in New York City — and more intel

Trump-Branded New York Building Looks To Remove President’s Name

Life after Donald Trump’s presidency, as a business owner near Trump Tower

Small business owners along 56th Street in Midtown are beginning to exhale, as the city continues to remove the barricades, police checkpoints, and other security measures that have long protected Trump Tower. The measures — put in place shortly after Donald Trump’s election in November 2016 — have plagued restaurants in the neighborhood for the last four years, hindering foot traffic and making food deliveries all but impossible, according to a new report from the New York Times.

“This stretch of 56th Street used to be like Times Square in terms of foot traffic,” echoes Vincent Lin, owner of the newly opened restaurant Blue Willow. That changed shortly after Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, when 56th Street near Trump Tower became a frequent site of protest for both supporters and opponents of the former president. At times, the street was closed to pedestrians and cars for blocks in either direction. “It changes you completely, destroying your business, from the barricades to everything else,” John Goçi, owner of Il Tinello, tells the Times. He estimates that business declined by as much as 30 percent in the first few months of Trump’s presidency.

Takeout and delivery orders, two lifelines for many restaurants during the winter months, also suffered as a result, restaurant owners say. Lin says that 56th Street was frequently closed to traffic, meaning he had to transport food orders to third-party delivers who were parked one, sometimes two, blocks away. The Midtown business owner first noticed that the New York Police Department had removed some of its barricades along 56th Street “about a week and a half ago,” he says. “I was stoked. I believe better days are ahead.”

Sergeant Jessica McRorie, a spokeswoman for the New York City Police Department, tells the Times that the decision to remove the barriers was made in coordination with the United States Secret Service.

In other news

— East Village businesses Mikey Likes It and Tompkins Square Bagels are teaming up on a new flavor of cream cheese, made with praline pecans, pecan pie filling, and chunks of pecan pie from Abu’s Bakery in Bed-Stuy.

— Last Place on Earth, an entertainment cafe in Greenpoint has transformed its back room into a private movie theater for up to eight people. Reserve a screening by messaging the cafe on Instagram or calling at 315-230-4381.

— Acclaimed Korean tasting menu restaurant Atomix has a reopening date on the calendar. The restaurant is now accepting reservations through Tock ahead of its opening on Tuesday, March 9.

— Bacchus has been temporarily closed since November, but the restaurant’s employees are now serving Pueblan and Oaxacan fare from a pop-up called El Zason out of its kitchen. The restaurant is open for takeout, delivery, and indoor dining in Bacchus’s wine room.

— More Mexican pop-up news this week: Mama Toon, owner of Thai Sliders in Chelsea, is working with chef Armando Quintero Jimenez on a new Pueblan pop-up hosted at the restaurant, called Oro Verde.

New York Times critic Pete Wells writes about writing about restaurants during the pandemic.

— Gothamist reviews Cayenne, a new ghost kitchen delivering Nashville hot chicken in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

— Nathan’s Famous is bringing an Impossible burger to its menu this year.

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