As the MTA digs deeper into the earth to complete phase one of the Second Avenue Subway, business owner’s on second avenue are digging deep into their pockets to keep their businesses afloat.
New business expenses related to the construction have come in the form of paying for patron parking, additional advertising and even pest extermination.
Extra large garbage bins, filthy construction tools, and ripped up sidewalks have led to an infiltration of rats, cockroaches, and earth dwellers of all kinds into the businesses that line the streets of Second Avenue.
Demetrious Glekas, manager at Nick’s Restaurant on 94th Street and Second Avenue, has had to work extra hard to keep the family owned restaurant clean and hygienic.
How has the construction of the Second Avenue Subway effected your restaurant?
Glekas: It’s not a very pleasant environment. We are a family restaurant and families do not want to maneuver their strollers and kids around a maze of garbage or dirt to come into the front door. They don’t want to walk this way.They rather go to first avenue or even third avenue, which is pretty much equal distance, for the most part and it is a more pleasant environment.
How has what is going on outside effected the cleanliness of your restaurant, inside?
Glekas: It stinks. That huge garbage can is an eye soar and reeks. Especially during the summer months, when the door would open the smell would come into the restaurant. It doesn’t matter how good our food smells, that stink would ruin the patron’s appetite.
Do you feel the MTA is really helping business owners to keep their establishments clean and attractive to patrons?
Glekas: No! Here’s what I wish, I wish the MTA decision makers could put their “feet,” in a restaurant owner’s shoes and look at construction through our perspective. We need them to be more efficient, for example they were doing some construction across the street, they put those big walls up to close up a part of the street so that they could relocate a fire hydrant. They finished the relocation and everything was ready to go on Wednesday but we had to kindly ask them to move the wall of cement a week later so that patrons can finally get access to our restaurant to the businesses on this side of the street.
If there is one thing that you could ask the MTA right now, to help the business, what would it be?
Glekas: Honestly, just cleaning up the top of the streets, for example getting rid of all the equipment on the top of the street, while construction is happening underground. We really miss a larger cleaner sidewalk. A more attractive appealing way to showcase the front of our business.
Owners are starting to be more vocal about the damage the construction has had on their businesses. The neighborhood has organized an upcoming rally, on October 24th to protest the three years of neglect they have felt from the MTA. Their demands include improved sanitary conditions, improved crosswalks and an increase in police presence.
(Please note the interview was edited for clarity.)