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This Is How 258-Year-Old Fraunces Tavern Is Surviving the Pandemic

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Is New York City dead?

This question has become one of the hottest topic of discussions ever since entrepreneur James Altucher's LinkedIn article went viral in August. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld countered James on his New York Times' article, implying that the city will never be dead.

Some people argue that rich and famous people are actually untouched by the economic impact of the coronavirus so it's easy for them to debate on whether New York City is dead or alive.

Then how about those New Yorkers who are actually running businesses in the city?

Well, we spoke to Eddie Travers, owner of 258-year-old Fraunces Tavern, one of the oldest tavern in the city.

"New York City is definitely not dead. You can never write off such a great city," 43-year-old Travers said.

Travers, along with his wife, Dervila Bowler, have been the owners of Fraunces Tavern restaurant for 10 years now. They vividly remember the day when they shut down their business.

"We closed down on March 16, which is the day before St. Patrick's Day, which is traditionally our busiest day of the year," he said. "We were closed for six months."

They reopened on August 1.

"Even at the return to business, we were down-- in the beginning we were down 80%." he said. "It has improved over the past couple of weeks, so we're still down 70% on last year's figures," Travers said.

One of the key factors for the restaurant survival was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is the flagship program of the CARES Act. In simple words, PPP is a small-business relief program which help business-owners to keep their workers on the payroll. The loan would also be forgiven if the business-owners met some criteria.

"We were successful in getting the PPP. It was very helpful to us. It allowed us to bring back our staff to work. It allowed us to make payments to our landlords, to pay down on utilities," he said.

"Realistically speaking, without the PPP, it would not have been worth our while in opening the doors," he said. "And now that PPP is-- our loans are coming to the end now in the next couple of weeks, so then we're going to have to sit down and really look at what our revenues are and what our expenditures are, and there is going to be tough decisions to be made."

The restaurant is also implementing new ways to do business.

"We are going to start offering delivery service. We turned one of our bars into a bottle beer shop, where you'll be able to walk in, get your beers to go, or else you'll be able to call us and get it delivered," he said. "We also are starting our merchandise line next week, and soon we'll be coming out with our Fraunces Tavern Whiskey."

"We're just looking to do business from outside the four walls, and it'll just prepare us for, God forbid, if there was another shutdown, that we can still somehow generate some revenue, just to keep us tiding over," he added.

When asked for advice for other small business owners, he said, "I'd say that you just have to make sure your spaces are safe. Make sure your customers know that your spaces are safe."

"Think of alternative ways to generate revenue, and just negotiate your rent and just try to hold out on this because the good times will come back," he added.

Go inside the reopened Fraunces Tavern in the video above. 

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