A Pandemic St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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The Times’s Julia Moskin writes:

Ditmas Park was missing an ice-cream parlor — until January 2020, when the Low family opened What’s the Scooooop, where the menu ranges from organic ice cream cones to kimchi-topped French fries and banh mi.

Elgin Low, 32, who grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood, designed the space for maximum appeal to young people, with a cartoon mural and a play space for the littlest kids. Mr. Low hoped that spring would bring warm weather and foot traffic from the elementary school two blocks down.

Instead, it brought the pandemic, and a total — if temporary — shutdown to the shop and its neighbors along two blocks of Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park’s main business corridor. “We never really got a chance to build up a customer base,” Mr. Low said.

The crisis has dealt a financial body blow to food businesses here, which have transformed the area over the past two decades into a mini restaurant row.

But the emergency conditions have also turned the owners into a collective, sharing sidewalk space, propane tanks, bread deliveries and navigation tips on a shifting sea of city, state and federal regulations. The customers, too, have changed, as commuters who once ate lunch in Midtown, grabbed drinks downtown or had dinner anywhere in the city have stayed in one place: home.

[Read more about how a Brooklyn neighborhood rallied behind its restaurants.]

Avi Shuker, an owner of Mimi’s Hummus (and husband to Mimi Kitani, the chef), said he knew immediately that the pandemic could be an extinction event for New York restaurants.

He hauled all the tables and chairs out to the sidewalk, and brought the wine cellar and beer stash up to street level. He watched lines of panicked shoppers build outside nearby food markets like the Flatbush Food Co-op.

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