Joseph 'JJ' Johnson, owner of FIELDTRIP
“I remember the day before the lockdown went into effect vividly. I was in the restaurant and, around 6pm, I got an alert. At that time, we didn’t know if restaurants were considered essential businesses or not. All of a sudden, the entire community of Harlem poured into FIELDTRIP. We couldn’t cook food fast enough. I think I cooked until 12:30am that night. At one point, I told people to just go into the fridge and grab a beer or a bottle of wine while waiting for their order. It was a beautiful thing, they were all supporting us. The next day, we started doing delivery only. I knew it wasn’t going to just be two or three weeks. I had three months in mind but it clearly went longer than that. At the time I only had three staff members and was able to keep them all on. We actually grew as a business through the pandemic: we have three locations now. The Long Island City food hall and the Rockefeller Center locations are operating indoor dining at 35 percent, but the Harlem location isn’t open yet because we feed children and families in need through it and it's more important to us to be able to do that there than open for indoor dining. My belief is that if Governor Cuomo can get New York City to 70% indoor capacity and bring back arenas and Broadway while private businesses make sure everyone is safe in their offices, the rest will work itself out."
Current status: "I think consumers should really support more local restaurants and eateries in their immediate community. Go check them out! It can be just for a snack, not a complete meal, but go support them."