Danny Abrams opened a restaurant six blocks from the World Trade Center site six weeks after 9/11.
Even during that difficult time, the restaurant was welcomed by the city with more than 100 covers a night for the first year.
“But this is very different,” Abrams said. “It’s hard to compare.”
This, of course, is the pandemic.
Abrams and his partner, Cindy Smith, run seven restaurants in New York. They recently made the difficult decision to close The Mermaid Inn in the East Village after more than 17 years.
“I think there’s a restaurant-closing tsunami on the way,” Abrams said. “It’s going to happen after September. They’re not seeing a wave of closings yet because people are still trying to hang on and people are still playing with some of the PPP they might’ve gotten.”
The Mermaid Inn, which was known by locals for its happy hour deals, had about 80 seats inside, 20 in the garden, and 16 on the sidewalk. Abrams said it typically did strong business in the spring and summer, before quieting in the winter.
“We really needed May, June, July, August, September,” he said. “If we miss that window and then get to do 50% in October, 50% in November? Forget about it.”
Abrams and Smith wrote a detailed letter, explaining the closure and detailing the current pressures on independent restaurant operators, and shared it on their Facebook page.
The two are currently doing everything they can to reduce expenses at their existing concepts, to try to stay afloat until this crisis passes.
“It’s all about survival right now,” he said. “I want to be the last man standing.”
This letter, written by Mermaid Inn co-owners Danny Abrams and Cindy Smith and shared on social media, has been edited slightly from its original and shared here with their permission.
The Mermaid Inn at 96 Second Ave. Farewell Letter
To All Our Valued Guests and Friends
It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of The Mermaid Inn at 96 Second Ave.