A Day to Celebrate: Scenes from Day 1 of Phase 2 in Brooklyn Heights

New York City has a lot to be proud of. Three months after we went into pandemic “PAUSE,” we made it to Phase 2. It was a tough road to be sure. Those who stuck it out in Brooklyn endured sirens blaring all day for weeks on end, each siren reminding us of the unthinkable. Many of us fell ill and recovered. Many of us lost loved ones. But we persevered, as New Yorkers do. There were no protests at the state capitol demanding our right to dine out and shop as we wished. The city that never sleeps stayed in and looked out for each other. As Governor Cuomo said, we didn’t just flatten the curve, we grabbed it and bent it. We went from being the epicenter of the pandemic to having the lowest infection rate in the country. Although many questions remain about the immediate future, today is a day to celebrate. Here, we share photos of our hard hit, local small businesses that dusted themselves off to welcome Phase 2 in Brooklyn Heights.

A neighborhood youth gets his first haircut in months at Choo Choo Cuts on Montague Street.


Mario Avila, stylist at Diva Salon on Henry St., said, “I’m so happy to be back. I was so excited about today that I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I needed to get back to work.”


James Weir Floral Co. on Montague St. had been open for delivery and curbside pickup only. Today, owner Estela Johannesen welcomed customers inside for browsing and shopping.


Tango on Montague St. also opened its doors today.


Mark Sgantzos, owner of Clark’s Restaurant, shows off a newly installed section of sidewalk seating on Henry St.


Long time Brooklyn Heights resident Jose Baide (far right) with friend Julio at the Clark St. side section of sidewalk dining. Jose said, “It’s great to be here after all the craziness, to just relax and have some wine with my old friend.”


Sidewalk seating at Lantern on Montague St. was hopping late afternoon today.


Custom House on Montague St. improvised by using as much of the adjacent sidewalk as possible for tables and chairs.


Park Plaza Diner on Cadman Plaza West prepares a section of Pineapple Walk for sidewalk seating.


Alas, Fortune House on Henry St. was not quite ready to open on Day 1, but come July 1st, it’ll open for takeout and delivery.


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  • ColumbiaHeightster

    This is great! About two hours until my son and I get our haircuts at Choo Choo cuts. Can’t wait to see Serge, Anastasia and the crew!

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Mary, nice job on article with great pictures.
    I hate to be a pessimist. It is fantastic that businesses are opening and people getting back to work but I am not at all confident that this virus will not rear its ugly head once again. Tons of people, especially younger, do not give the respect this virus deserves. I hope and pray I am wrong.
    Excellent must read: The Great Influenza

  • Jorale-man

    Totally agree. The fact that more than half of the U.S. is seeing an increase in virus cases, it’s only a matter of time before NYC’s cases start to go up too.

    Most of the people I see in the Heights who are not social distancing or wearing face masks are roughly 18-30. Some will pass right by these seats on the sidewalk. I want to support local businesses however possible, but I’ll be sticking with delivery for the time being.

    PS – Great photos indeed.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Great article Mary!

  • Cranberry Beret

    Here’s an article about the Clinton Street Barber Shop reopening:

  • aarrrrrimapirate

    We need to make sure our beloved restaurants know about the street seating program!


    It would be great for them to use all the wasted space on the streets (currently taken up by parked cars) for a more valuable purpose!

  • chrisreo

    Mary – Thanks for raising awareness about all the local businesses that are now open and in need of our (masked and hand-sanitized) support.

  • Mary Kim

    Thank you, all!

    I’ll add that Henry’s End was closed yesterday, but tonight, their sidewalk dining was in full swing.

    At Park Plaza, Dimitri excitedly told me that they’re transforming Pineapple Walk for outdoor dining with a tent and light fixtures.

    The sidewalks outside Heights Cafe and Dellarocco’s were also bustling tonight.

  • Knight

    Mary Kim: thanks for the great photo assessment of the Phase 2 start in our little hamlet!

  • Banet

    Restaurants are able to commandeer the parking spaces in front of their restaurant. But I wonder what happens if a citibike rack is in that space. Sorry Dellarocco’s, you lose. :-(

  • Cranberry Beret

    Luckily they can share with their sister Heights Cafe

  • Mike Suko

    Me, too, but I’d like to suggest a “constructive” “amendment.” There will be places that seem to prioritize “doing it right” and others who – understandably – need/want every penny they can squeeze out at this time. There’s a Thai place in Cobble Hill – yes, it could be a “language” problem in terms of their decision, but they did what too many restaurants have done FOR EVER. HOW CLOSE to one another can we seat people? [I’m no big fan of JTH’s (and others) padded wall bench and 2-tops 6-12 inches apart!]

    There was, therefore, just a few inches between 2 unrelated people’s back-of-their heads – and a couple of feet separating you from a stranger at the adjacent (to the side) table.

    I won’t be carrying a tape measure, and it’s not my style to hector, but with 4000 restaurants “re-opening” Monday – probably 10000 by July 4th, one hopes that the bad actors will lose out and the responsible ones will profit.

  • Jorale-man

    Yes, for now, the re-openings are all outdoors so that does help mitigate the transmission of the virus (though not 100%, of course). When they move to indoor seating, if NY is like other states, they’ll probably mandate 6 foot separation between the tables for a while. That’s bad news for the cramped Thai place you mention, but maybe somewhat safer for patrons (assuming your dining companion isn’t sick and giving it to you).

    Also worth keeping in mind: if you’re over 65 or have underlying conditions, going out to eat any time before a vaccine or treatment is pretty much going to be a non-starter.

  • Mike Suko

    That sounds like a choice either you are making or you are guessing the people involved will.

    NEWS FLASH – even many seniors “take chances,” especially when something they really enjoy is involved.

    And your point about outdoor dining is undeniable – I’m sure that many will eat out this summer for 4 related reasons:

    a) “denial” too much, too long;
    b) relatively low risk outdoors;
    c) it’s HOT in the summer & dining out is extra tempting; and
    d) come colder weather – not to mention the much talked about 2nd wave – MANY will opt for “hunkering down” again, whatever their “resentment.”

  • Jorale-man

    As I say, I’m taking the cautious route on this one (maybe too cautious), especially when it comes to the prospect of indoor dining. I’ll get takeout or delivery and do my best to help the local biz that way.

    Good analysis. Restaurants are probably eyeing the summer as their best shot at recouping some of their losses for the year.

  • Mary Kim
  • Mike Suko

    Love the photos, … but whoever wrote the headline came on – to my way of thinking – way too strong…. Especially given what I perceive to be Heights demographics.

    YES, eateries & drinkeries (candidly, I’m thinking coffee more than alcohol – just “running the numbers”) are a kind of barometer as to the vitality level in the Heights (even more than the avg. nabe.)

    But even when this article appeared, there were troubling signs about “too much too soon” elsewhere in the country.

    Yes, one can overdo “the sky is falling” stuff – and I know that I certainly run that risk – but there’s something VERY scary about following along the same path Florida has been on – one that has certainly not worked great – and hoping for/expecting that “that won’t happen here.”

    Obviously, every establishment – whether it sells pizza or full meals or ice cream or whatever – in or near the Heights is probably more likely than not to be visited by tourists. (THEY STILL EXIST.) Many are much younger than the average Heights resident and their “compliance” with recommended everything is mostly lower.

    The specifics of the FL/TX/CA “bulge” recently seem to entail Covid striking people UNDER 50. Of course, sage people point out that that puts more vulnerable people at elevated risk.

    I can’t remember hearing/reading (here or elsewhere) positive words about diBlasio, and while Cuomo sounds intelligent, he made some dreadful decisions early on. There’s blood on his hands, even if he only has to answer for “manslaughter.”

    That’s relevant, because these ARE NOT INDIVIDUALS with a good history re balancing health & commerce. Tracing could not have gotten off to a worse start, and there will be STRONG pressure NOT to “dial back.” When you hear that a bar was closed in Florida because 30 or 40 people who tested positive patronized it, a smart person would bring up the “close the barn door after the fact” metaphor.

    Last, for 2 or 3 enormous reasons, enforcement figures to be a total joke. If we get to phase III and our numbers haven’t spiked by then, this neighborhood will be living “playing with matches.” Texas is a victim of “it won’t happen here,” and we will have the same mindset with the addition of the word “again.” How dumb is that?!