one thing I love most about living in new york is the diversity of people chasing a dream they want to share with the world. a dream to curate craft supplies or open up a vegan diner, knit designer bird sweaters or turn doodles into books, organize and mobilize, inspire and reinvent. every square mile of this city is filled with hundreds of people working everyday to turn their passion into a successful business. and without the small business owners running everything from your favorite eateries and bookshops to your go-to pet stores, boutiques and corner stores, I don’t believe that new york would be the new york we love at all.
now, I don’t know jack about running a small business (or any kind of business really #journalismschool), but I know that many of these folks–like much of the world right now–are struggling to stay afloat.
the past few weeks, I’ve read one too many articles and scrolled passed way too many posts about my favorites cafes, restaurants, and storefronts having to close indefinitely. it’s been more heartbreaking than I could’ve imagined. writing this list felt like checking in on dozens of close, struggling friends.
and while it seems like there’s more need than any one person could possibly fill, I’ve found it helpful to not only focus one what you can do, but also to remember that even a little extra love can go a long way.
that said, I wanted to share some of my favorite NYC-based small businesses and a few simple ways you can support them (or your own local businesses!):
- many of the folks below are still open for business (noted with a *) via take-out or delivery, or have online shops and gift cards available. if you are fortunate enough to be in a place where you can support (or perhaps even keep in mind for future visits or gift shopping), please do! some of these folks are also running staff relief funds which I’ve linked to.
- if you have resources to share and are interested in supporting on a larger scale, check out the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation.
- sadly, a handful of the businesses below are not open online in any way and have closed storefronts for an indefinite amount of time. but if you’ve been so lucky to know them and love them, consider leaving them a glowing review on google, yelp, or social media with the hope that the owners will find a little extra comfort and strength when the time comes to reopen their doors.
- finally, if you know a local business owner, take a moment to check in on them with a hello! kind words are always free to give.
***one LAST note: while compiling this wonderfully extensive list, I decided to split up all my favorite businesses into two posts, one dedicated to restaurants, eateries and cafes, another highlighting lifestyle / books / artists / wellness. stay tuned!***
restaurants, eateries & cafes
- blue stove* – one of the first BK businesses I fell in love with; forever holding a spot in my heart (and stomach) for their pies
- brooklyn tea* – a true neighborhood gem that not only hosts community events and partners with local gardens to compost tea leaves, but also sells any kind of tea you could imagine and has some of the friendliest service I’ve encountered in new york (ships nationwide!)
- brown butter craft bar – line up for biscuits when this is all over and you won’t be sorry
- champs – I know you’ll roll your eyes when you find out it’s a vegan diner, but don’t knock it ’till you try it I WILL CRY IF CHAMPS CLOSES DOWN, I WILL (support staff relief here)
- clementine bakery* – oh-so-charming spot for your plant parent and baked good cravings (open for takeout and delivery)
- cousin john’s – supported my muffin addiction during a summer of park slope camp counseling and I have no regrets; family owned since 1987
- joyce bakeshop – my go-to neighborhood cafe for 4 years (support staff relief here)
- lincoln station – the amount of money I have spent here is truly unprecedented (and worth every penny); another cafe favorite and home of the best breakfast sandwiches and fries
- little choc apothecary* – many a’ lovely friend- and self- dates have been spent here over wine, cozy dim lights, wonderful tunes, and delicious crepes and tea (you can also support staff relief here)
- little cupcake bakeshop* – you won’t find better (vegan chocolate) cake slices anywhere else (not confirmed personally, but their facebook page says they ship nationwide)
- nacho macho taco* – my favorite tacos, like…ever (still open for delivery if you are in park slope/prospect heights/bushwick)
- olde brooklyn bagel shop* – this is the only bagel shop I have listed here and for good reasons (site looks open for delivery/take-out still)
- ovenly* – home of the best $3 peanut butter cookie (and rosemary scones)
- paris dakar – a bed-stuy favorite of mine that fought off many sunday scaries with their case of buttery, flakey pastries (donating to staff relief enters you into a chance to win free coffee for 6 months!)
- screamer’s pizza* – theee plant-based pizzeria that will convert every skeptic, I promise you (delivery and take-out still available in select locations)
- the bean* – another go-to cafe for several years in the city and BK (their midnight hours got me through grad school)
- two boots pizza* – another first-love BK spot that has even earned the approval of my very picky, er, beloved mother (according to the site, the park slope location is still open for take-out)
a note about supporting asian-owned businesses: many of my favorite asian eateries do not have active social media presences or websites to link to and, as a result, probably don’t have online relief collections up and running either. a few listed below do have online activity through which you can support; the others are ones I love dearly and would simply be devastated to lose, especially since many of them already began suffering in the earlier stages of the pandemic.
if you would like to help local asian-owned businesses on a larger scale, please consider checking out the Asian Americans for Equality’s emergency small business relief fund.
and if you prefer to share your time, energy, and creativity, you can write a love letter to chinatown here.
- nan xiang xiao long bao – when they open again, you must go for soup dumplings. you MUST. I take an hour-long subway to get here and it has yet to disappoint
- new flushing bakery – the best, best, very best egg tarts that I have also traveled over an hour for
- nourish – a go-to Thai comfort food spot for several years where many meals have been shared
- plant love house* – the Thai home-cooking I never knew I needed (spice lovers unite!)
- han dynasty – come hungry and ready for spice
- kopitiam* – a Malaysian coffee house that gives me all the feels and makes me want to order everything (selling merch AND looking for local orgs that need meal assistance #inlove)
- nonya – don’t go anywhere else for Malaysian food first (except maybe kopitiam, but I’d come here if you’re especially hungry)
- XO kitchen – all your dim sum favorites in a no-frills space
- yin ji chang fen – the last restaurant I went to before the quarantine to devour congee and rice rolls
- congee village – a family favorite that has also earned my very picky and beloved father’s approval
did I miss out on any of your favorites?
stay hopeful & be well xx
(feature photo credit: amanda dalbjorn)