The last few months have not been business as usual for Manveen Singh, owner of Tandoor Palace at 88 Fulton Street. “We have about 10 to 15% as much business,” she told the Downtown Alliance. Still, Singh and her small staff continue to operate the 27-year-old eatery, serving lunches and dinners to the locals who still frequent it. Singh did close down the restaurant for a few weeks right as the pandemic hit the city, but decided to reopen so the health-care workers at Lower Manhattan NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, located just across the street, could get some fresh meals.
“I just had to come back and be with them again, to serve them and make sure that they get the right food,” Singh said, adding that her dishes are chock full of fresh vegetables and proteins. “We have been sending them lunches and dinners.”
The restaurant is not located at street-level and won’t be able to do outdoor seating, even as New York City moves into its second-phase reopening. But Singh says she’s mandated a strict cleaning protocol so diners can safely do pickup and delivery. “Our days mainly start and finish with a comprehensive clean: every inch of the restaurant, storefront, kitchen, packing area,” she said. “Everybody has gloves on, masks on.”
Tandoor Palace is the oldest Indian restaurant in the downtown business district, having operated on Fulton since 1994, and, though business has taken a big hit in the pandemic, Singh has no plans to close up. “If I could pull through 9/11, even if I have to work myself with no staff, I would do my best to keep it going,” she said. “I have succeeded so far. I do not want to close this now. This is like a family to me.”
She would have appreciated some more help from the government. “I did try to reach the mayor’s office and the hospital, to get some additional business — I have been going in circles and haven’t succeeded,” she said, adding that after 9/11, she and other small businesses got a boost from FEMA. “They approached us and put in food orders for 150, 200, 300 construction workers. They supported small businesses in the area. Nothing like that has happened this year.”
But Singh says people in the neighborhood are still frequenting Tandoor Palace and putting in food orders. “They are more than happy to support us,” she said, noting that the pandemic has brought out the good in people. “I think people have, on the whole, become more caring and the New Yorkers are becoming more concerned about each other. They do feel the pain, because everybody’s going through it one way or the other.”