Earlier in the morning I met with a local merchant who has a well-established Italian restaurant across the street from a dessert shop I redesigned and partnered with on 23rd Avenue last summer. We know each other from 23rd Avenue but he and his sons reside in Williamsburg and were very familiar with 11211 Magazine in Williamsburg. They still live there and drive to Astoria everyday. He asked what I was up to. I told him about the train situation with the shutdown and the Astoria Blind Eye project for the merchants.
It turns out the writer, John Surico, who wrote How One Subway Closure in Queens Wrecked a Community And what it could mean for the upcoming L train from Vice Magazine, is planning to write a book about his restaurant. The book will be called: “The Customer is Not Always Right.”
I think Mr. Surico has written some stellar articles for Vice. His writing is warm, sincere, and engaging. His interest in Williamsburg is on point.
The Vice offices are still in Wburg. I remember when their offices were across the street from mine on North 4th Street. I wandered in one day to say hello. It was just two guys in a tiny office wide-eyed and perturbed on how I got in (lol). In 2000, North 4th between Berry and Wythe was where the prostitues and junkies congregated each night. They were right to wonder how I got in. The door on the street was ajar. 😜
I gave, said merchant, my card and asked to have him tell John that some of the restaurants and businesses on 30th Avenue may have some gifts for him as gesture of gratitude.
We spoke about the differences between the merchants here in Astoria as opposed to Williamsburg. Tribal is the word we both agreed upon to describe the mindset. He’s been in Astoria since 2009. I’ve only been here since 2013.
This is not a poke at intellectual or financial capability by any means. It is just a shared mindset. #astorialife
The meeting at Don Coqui went well. When asked what I thought of the meeting on a scale of 1-10, “From my perspective and if my aims had been met, it was a 5 or 6. From the turnout of the meeting and the fact that 50 business owners showed up, it was a 10. Either way, it is just more data. This is going to take a lot longer than I have time for.” I was thinking more about the meeting tonight with investors from Greenwich, CT and seeing if we can get $300 million for Bareburger to expand.
I don’t know how the merchants are perceiving their situation. They are angry and rightfully so. I think they are worried too. Their livelihood is at stake. Everything is on the line. Their families, employees, employees families are all subjects of a dire situation.
Strategically, I think this neighborhood is being sacked and usurped by the MTA in the name of bigger business interests, namely Long Island City real estate developers.
Governor Cuomo is the only one that can do anything about adjusting the MTA’s set plan in motion.
On the one hand, they understand their drop in business. On the other hand, they are at a loss as to the stratagem to take action steps on setting in motion.
As a brand strategist by profession, there is a huge difference between tactical responses, emotions and developing a multi-level and flexible strategem. Perhaps a strategy is too premature. They still need to get all their anger out. Then and only then can we pursue a logical step by step approach.
Afterward another business owner said: “This is what happens when you have too many chiefs in the room. All are leaders and no one is following.” I concur and think that pretty much sums it up in a nutshell.
Williamsburg has kicked the MTA “soup can” down the road for their year long subway closing. The closing was originally slated for 2017, then 2018, and now it’s 2019. They are a little more sophisticated and politically connected in Williamsburg nowadays than Williamsburg 2000-2006.
They have a lobby. Not a lobby like the ones you find in a building with a concierge or like the door that was ajar on the street at the Vice Magazine loft office.
A lobby like the one you hear about in the political news all the time: