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AP PHOTOS: Small businesses pivoting during pandemic

FMN General Store managing partner Derek Tigue, left, talks with neighbor Geraldine Johns in front of the former Forgtmenot bar, which his partners an...
Managing partner Derek Tigue sprays water on vegetables outside FGM General Store, formerly Forgtmenot bar, which he, his partners and friends convert...
FMN General Store owner Paul Sierros, left, sits at the bar at Forgtmenot, which he, his partners and friends converted into a mini grocery store duri...
FMN General Store managing partner Derek Tigue makes a bloody mary behind the bar at the former Forgtmenot, which he, his partners and friends convert...
Derek Tigue, left, toasts a walk-in customer at FMN General Store, formerly the Forgtmenot bar, during the coronavirus outbreak, Wednesday, April 15, ...
FMN General Store owner Paul Sierros carries paper towels to a customer's car during the coronavirus outbreak, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in New York....
Head cake decorator Shelley Segroves watches her step as she carries four containers of freshly-iced cupcakes from the kitchen to the cafe and bakery ...
A customer bags her groceries as others wait to pay after shopping for fresh produce, bread and other items, like protective gloves now available at C...
Assistant Manager Tiffany Wong moves a cake onto a smaller plate at Clementine Bakery in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during the coronavirus outb...
Justin Whitkin, center, and Elizabeth Boileau, right, shop for produce at Clementine Bakery in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during the coronaviru...
Fruit preserves and thyme honey sit on a shelf for sale at FMN General Store, formerly the Forgtmenot bar, which was converted by its owners into a mi...
Resident Rachel Pellerin, right, who just moved to the city from Tennessee, purchases eggplant and other produce from Derek Tigue at FMN General Store...
FMN General Store managing partner Derek Tigue holds a bottle of ginseng extract, a dietary supplement Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in New York. Tigue, ...
Managing partner Derek Tigue, left, gives a thumbs-up sign to a friend as customers leave the FMN General Store with groceries after shopping at the f...

FMN General Store managing partner Derek Tigue, left, talks with neighbor Geraldine Johns in front of the former Forgtmenot bar, which his partners an...

Managing partner Derek Tigue sprays water on vegetables outside FGM General Store, formerly Forgtmenot bar, which he, his partners and friends convert...

FMN General Store owner Paul Sierros, left, sits at the bar at Forgtmenot, which he, his partners and friends converted into a mini grocery store duri...

FMN General Store managing partner Derek Tigue makes a bloody mary behind the bar at the former Forgtmenot, which he, his partners and friends convert...

Derek Tigue, left, toasts a walk-in customer at FMN General Store, formerly the Forgtmenot bar, during the coronavirus outbreak, Wednesday, April 15, ...

FMN General Store owner Paul Sierros carries paper towels to a customer's car during the coronavirus outbreak, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in New York....

Head cake decorator Shelley Segroves watches her step as she carries four containers of freshly-iced cupcakes from the kitchen to the cafe and bakery ...

A customer bags her groceries as others wait to pay after shopping for fresh produce, bread and other items, like protective gloves now available at C...

Assistant Manager Tiffany Wong moves a cake onto a smaller plate at Clementine Bakery in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during the coronavirus outb...

Justin Whitkin, center, and Elizabeth Boileau, right, shop for produce at Clementine Bakery in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during the coronaviru...

Fruit preserves and thyme honey sit on a shelf for sale at FMN General Store, formerly the Forgtmenot bar, which was converted by its owners into a mi...

Resident Rachel Pellerin, right, who just moved to the city from Tennessee, purchases eggplant and other produce from Derek Tigue at FMN General Store...

FMN General Store managing partner Derek Tigue holds a bottle of ginseng extract, a dietary supplement Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in New York. Tigue, ...

Managing partner Derek Tigue, left, gives a thumbs-up sign to a friend as customers leave the FMN General Store with groceries after shopping at the f...

NEW YORK (AP) — Without their usual flow of patrons to their three businesses in Chinatown and the Lower East Side neighborhoods of Manhattan, Abby and Paul Sierros needed a plan. They saw a neighborhood need and went to work, replacing the tables and chairs with shelving and refrigerators in their bar, Forgtmenot, transforming it into a grocery store.

Across the East River in Brooklyn, at Clementine Bakery, similar changes are happening. Michelle Barton’s bakery and café added fresh produce, fresh local bread, and protective gloves to their normal vegan fare.

“We just made it happen," Forgtmenot managing partner Derek Tigue said. “About five or six of us mobilized and made the adjustments in less than 24 hours with wood from a Chinese lumber yard across the street.”

Using the suppliers from their restaurants, Kiki's Grill and Kiki's, the Forgtmenot bar, now called the FMN General Store, sells bread, jam, peanut butter, flour, Campbell’s soup, beans, pasta, fresh produce, and specialty items like homemade Greek yoghurt, olives, spicy pickles, burrata cheese, and thyme honey along with kitty litter and pet food. They also carry high-demand items like toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. Customers can also pick up a canned alcoholic beverage or a cocktail to-go after purchasing their groceries, since the bar is still open, but only to take away.

“It’s been a harsh pill to swallow, not only for us but for all small businesses,” said Tigue, referring to the three businesses’ 90% staff and revenue loss. “It’s a small service we’re providing to the neighborhood. We owe a huge gratitude to the community for being there for us. We just want to keep our restaurants alive, and keep our doors open.”

At Clementine Bakery, assistant manager Tiffany Wong says two of three customers purchase produce, even though they might have come for baked goods. After moving out the tables, half the bakery resembles a small farmer’s market.

“We’ve stopped taking cash…we’re contactless payment as much as possible. We started enforcing the five-people-at-a-time rule.” Wong added. “So far, people are really patient, and no one has complained about having to wait outside.

“Our customers have let us know how much they appreciate us being open," she said. “Some people don’t want to wait in line at a grocery store where there’s a lot more traffic. And they want to support small businesses like our café.”


Updated : 2021-05-17 06:46 GMT+08:00