east village

New Business Owners Confident Despite Opening During Pandemic

The Harvest Grill opened in the East Village last week

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s insane.

“Yes, we are. We are very much insane.”

It can’t be done.

“Well, yeah, you would have to be insane for sure. You do what you have to do to survive.”

The past few months, all we have heard is how small businesses are suffering. Many have closed because of the pandemic. Very few small businesses have decided to open.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of that, but we’re very confident,” Charlotte Albuquerque said.

Albuquerque, James Hengst and chef Jorge Hernandez just opened the Harvest Grill alongside Duck Foot Brewing in the East Village.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about as owners for years and years,” Hengst said.

“We’re go-getters," Albuquerque added. "We love what we do.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m super excited,” exclaimed Chef Hernandez from behind a counter where he was artistically assembling a meal that looked part art, part delicious.

The trio have known each other for years while working in the local hotel and catering industry. When the pandemic hit, Hengst and Hernandez lost their jobs. Albuquerque said she was furloughed.

“You don’t know what to expect," Hengst said. "You don’t know where it’s going."

“I felt sad, depressed,” Hernandez said.

The three took it as a sign.

“The pandemic was just the perfect opportunity,” Albuquerque said.

“It gave you the weird opportunity of doing something when there was really nothing else for you,” Hengst added.

The three enacted a plan they had dreamed about. With Hernandez as their executive chef, they opened the Harvest Grill in a shared space with Duck Foot Brewing during a pandemic.

“Weirdly enough, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to really come together and showcase what we have,” said a smiling, insanely confident Hengst.

“We’re very, very confident,” Albuquerque said. “And I think we’re going to do just fine.”

The trio said their small business created eight more jobs for others. They also said they intend to focus a lot of attention on events and catering while also mapping out plans for new locations.

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