‘Little By Little, They Know We Are Open’: Getting Back To Business At 77 Burger

New York City has been on pause for weeks. With new reported cases of COVID-19 on the decline, people who run businesses are starting to think about how to restart operations while keeping everyone safe. The Downtown Alliance spoke to Maria Arce, manager of 77 Burger (77 Pearl Street) on Monday, April 27, the first day she reopened for delivery and takeout. 

But reopening wasn’t as simple as unlocking the front door and firing up the stove. “I came over here two days ago because I had to prepare,” Arce said. 

Arce commutes from Queens to Lower Manhattan. These days, there’s plenty of parking, but the challenges of rebooting 77 Burger were quick to present themselves. For one thing, getting supplies is difficult because not everybody is working. And it was uncertain whether the no-frills joint would have any customers to serve. But most importantly, Arce wanted to make sure that returning to doing business wouldn’t put anyone in danger. 

“I am the cashier, I take the orders and everything,” she said, but she can’t run the outfit on her own: She needed to bring in a cook and a delivery person, too. 

“It’s very hard. Because of the pandemic, I have to protect my workers — I don’t want to put them in danger,” Arce added. “I try to keep open but … there are few customers. It’s completely different.”

But there are some signs of hope. While Arce was speaking to the Alliance, another call came in: an order for burgers, fries and salads. 

“Little by little, they know we are open.” 

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