By Jessica Easthope
“The five boroughs are held hostage,” said Jimmy O’Reilly, the owner of Yer Man’s Irish Pub in Glendale, Queens.
After 27 years it’s come down to the wire for Jimmy and his bar. Yer Man’s has been closed for nearly six months. The business is now scraping by on a few hundred dollars a week, losing money and customers by the day.
“Nassau County’s open, it’s only a few miles from here, and people are leaving us, we have barely any curbside service anymore, because they can go out east, a few miles away and eat inside,” Jimmy said.
Space restrictions don’t allow for outdoor dining at Yer Man’s.
“To me it’s a liability, it doesn’t pay and it’s a waste of time, if I had a parking lot, fine, but you can’t pay the bills with a few tables outside, for any place,” said Jimmy.
According to Partnership for New York City, when the pandemic is over roughly one-third of the city’s 240,000 small businesses may never open again. Jimmy’s doing everything he can to make sure Yer Man’s isn’t one of them.
Earlier this summer Jimmy redesigned the entire bar for social distancing when his doors reopen, but they never did. He thought of every possible precaution he could take to make it safe for people to return, even installing a hook on the door so that no one would have to touch the handle.
“Is there a way where we can do something safely with indoor dining? So far we have not had that moment,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio August 31.
Jimmy says he can’t win.
“Maybe all I’ve done is in vain, because it’s backward we’re going and they don’t seem like they want us to reopen,” he said.
Jimmy’s spent more than $120,000 from loans just to keep the lights on. If things continue this way, he says he won’t survive for three more months.
“Never in my life thought this would happen, nobody did, it’s every business, every restaurant that’s going through torture and outdoor dining isn’t going to cut it,” Jimmy said.
Even with no end in sight, Jimmy is continuing to raise the bar, making his pub as safe as possible for reopening, hoping Yer Man’s will live to see the day.