STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A cafe will bloom once again in Rosebank — hopefully. Danielle Nugent readied for her first day back in business on Thursday at Bloom Cafe (Bloom via Facebook) with her business partner Linda Graffagnino. They’ve been closed since March 16.
That point 80 days ago was exactly when Bloom Cafe hit its stride. It was also just at the time that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo mandated restaurants and catering halls to close.
“That was the best week we had. We were going in the right direction,” said Nugent.
“We’ll see if the model now works as a grab and go because you can’t sit inside. We measured out the front of the store and we can allow three people at a time. Customers can call and we can run food and coffee out to the car. We’ll eventually do delivery but I’m not super set up for that. That’s a work in progress,” she said.
“We’re going in with the best intentions and we hope we can get through it,” Nugent said. At this point, New York City is days away from Phase 1 opening. Phase 2 will see eateries bring customers back into the seats in an alfresco dining room setting.
Nugent and Graffagnino considered the yard for an outdoor section but it would be too costly at this point to modify.
“Everybody’s ready. They want to get back to some kind of normalcy. We’re going to follow all the instructions and all the rules. Now we’re hoping that working with less will help us more,” said Nugent. With streamlined staff and hours — going forward that will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Sunday — she’s thinking it will balance expenses.
Her husband, Ted Fleetwood Nugent, co-owns The Richmond in Stapleton. Danielle says he has more of an uphill battle with his fine dining format.
She told her husband this morning before venturing to the shop: “It’s a wing and a prayer.”
But her first step is to start baking at Bloom, restocking the shelves with vegan- and gluten-free pastries, buttery scones and chocolate sponge cake with vanilla filling.
“We’re going to go for it. Every day there’s such uncertainty. We don’t know what to do. I think it’s important to be there for our customers. And coffee is very routine to people,” Nugent said.
She wonders, “Are people coming out? Are people back to work?” She feels everyone is so scattered. Maybe the coffee shop will be a bright spot in the neighborhood to feel connected once again.
“We offer comfort,” she said.
Around the borough we see Starbucks on Page Avenue in Richmond Valley (Starbucks.com) has established hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Heads up, as the only drive-thru for the chain on Staten Island, that last call is 5:45 p.m.
On the North Shore, Fab Cup (Fab Cup via Instagram) has remained open through the pandemic. Hours now are 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. but Alina Gubskiy plans to shut at 4 p.m. in the near future. Her place features modest bakery offerings and breakfast sandwiches, plus gourmet coffees and teas. She offers homemade scones, gluten-free sweets, spinach crepes and fruit turnovers. Coffees can include alternative milks. Her crepes are a version of a Moldavian dish made with cottage cheese, a recipe she riffs upon with parmesan and gouda cheeses as a special on weekends.
Beans ‘n’ Leaves in West Brighton (Beans via Facebook) of decadent waffle fame is now open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Owner Megan Coppola delivers within a two and a half mile radius of the coffee shop with cups and boxes of Joe. She’s Island-wide with bulk coffee shipments and catering trays for graduations, a specialty of the house that started as sympathy platters at the height of the coronavirus crisis.
The Mustard Seed, another Forest Avenue java hut, (themustardseedsi) continues with a Christian theme in its new ownership under Joe Alayon. He is also the chef/owner of Basil Cucina in Port Richmond, a restaurant with a successful to-go program already in place before the pandemic. Alayon’s new menu includes breakfast empanadas in its “early riser” breakfast program offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday though Saturday. The Mustard Seed is pet-friendly and presents a small outdoor area primed to open in the phase two opening of businesses. The shop delivers.
In New Dorp Sips + MAKER (@Sipsandmaker on Instagram) is open for business. The coffee shop combines a gift department into its business plan. Estera P. Alvarado, the proprietor, rearranged the pickup area for coffee and her gourmet pastries plus pies from Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Park Slope. Market goods are available. Not one to miss a milestone celebration, Estera opened for one day in the pandemic for her third anniversary. She’s open now from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Sitting in a coffee shop watching the world go by — that sounds so nice. I can’t wait — chatting with friends, working from a Starbucks or Bloom Cafe, appreciating things missing from life, so far, for months.
Lately I have been thinking about my great grandmother, Alice, a domestic who came to New York City from Southhampton, England. She lived through the Spanish flu of 1918, World Wars, the Great Depression and life was not easy. Considering her hardships I think she would have been amused at some of our own inconveniences throughout this pandemic thus far with shortages on yeast, Chinese food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and dog food. And she might have said something like, “Oh, sweetheart — this, too, shall pass.”
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Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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