End of the Line: How Has Dyre Avenue Changed During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

End of the Line: How Has Dyre Avenue Changed During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

It was just 10 weeks ago I paid a visit to the Dyre Avenue Business District in the northeast part of the Bronx. It’s the last stop in the borough for the 5 train, which brings residents to and from the neighborhood, located just steps from the Westchester County line. Just as the world has changed since that visit, so has Dyre Avenue.

Freckle’s Juice Bar is one of the businesses that was able to remain open during the outbreak in one of the city’s hardest hit zip codes. Owner Felicia Forbes says they cut back hours, but using safety protocols, they have been able to hang on and stay in business, unlike some of her neighbors.

“It’s really sad to see the businesses shut down for so long,” says Forbes, who also owns another shop in White Plains that had to close because it’s located in a mall. 

“I am very concerned about how my neighbors are providing for their families, you know?” she added.

Forbes says she had to raise prices on certain drinks because immune boosting ingredients like turmeric are harder to come by these days.

She says she hasn’t had to let any of her workers go, a relief to dedicated employees like Ava-Loi Anderson.

“My mother was actually pretty scared for me to leave the house and didn’t want me to leave and come back,” says Anderson. “My mom wanted me to stay, but I said, ‘I have to work.'”

One of the longtime Dyre Avenue businesses that decided to shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak was Mario’s Pizza. They have been here since the early 1970s, and were able to reopen after being shuttered for nearly two months.

Mario Reda says the business his grandfather started closed for the safety of his 70-year-old dad Mario Sr, his brother-in-law Sal and other workers.

“Everybody is happy that we are open. Hopefully everything goes well,” says Reda.

The store has been revamped with fiberglass barriers at the counter and marked floors for social distancing. Reda says for the time being, his Dad will stay home, or at least come in during times when there are no customers here.

“He misses the talking with the people, you know. He’s a people person,” says Reda about his dad, who was the second generation to run the pizzeria. 

Other businesses like the Dyre Avenue Diner down the block were able to stay open through all of this, but for delivery and takeout only.

Taxi driver Shabba Johnson says he changed the way he does business, too.

“When passengers get in, I say,’Put on your mask.’ When they get out, I clean my car”, says Johnson.

He added that he is not scared of getting sick, but he protects himself.

All in a neighborhood that’s just starting to get back to where it was before coronavirus arrived.

Published at Tue, 26 May 2020 06:07:00 +0000