FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM APRIL 9, 2020 • QUEENS BUSINESS • THE QUEENS COURIER 31
LIC restaurant that opened days before coronavirus
shutdown off ers takeout and delivery specials
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
When restaurant entrepreneur Robert
Briskin opened American Brass in Long
Island City in early March, it was the
beginning of a new business venture —
in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
Located behind the Long Island City’s
gantry cranes, American Brass instantly
became one of the largest eateries in
the neighborhood — second only to its
under-the-Pepsi-sign sister restaurant
Maiella, also owned by Briskin.
Briskin received his liquor license on
March 13 — the very same day the city
had instituted a 50 percent capacity rule
at restaurants citywide in response to the
coronavirus outbreak. Th en, on March
15, Briskin was notifi ed the restaurant
Courtesy of Robert Briskin
would be shut down to stem the spread
American Brass, located behind Long Island City’s gantry cranes, opened its doors before the coronavirus
of the virus.
shutdown and is delivering meals to customers.
“I had a meeting with the chefs and
managers for a game plan moving forward,”
Queens Chamber of Commerce hosts virtual
town hall to assist local small businesses
BY JACOB KAYE
Th e Queens Chamber of Commerce
hosted a virtual town hall meeting to connect
business owners from around the
borough with information and resources
that may help them through the COVID-
Th e town hall, which ran from 11 a.m.
until 12:30 p.m., on Th ursday, April 2,
featured remarks from Lt. Gov. Kathy
Hochul, as well as a presentation from
the New York City Department of Small
Business Services (SBS).
“How we respond will defi ne us for the
next few decades,” Hochul said. “My heart
is with Queens. We will get through this.”
Deshaun Mars, the director of business
outreach with SBS, shared his agency’s
resources with the group, including
a grant and loan program for businesses
aff ected by the outbreak.
“Th e city is here as a resource,” Mars
said. “SBS is here to support your business.”
Several business leaders throughout the
city also shared presentations during the
Will Bachman, a founding partner at
the virtual management consulting fi rm
Umbrex, presented tips on working from
home in a way that promotes good mental
“It’s easy to expand your workday, but
set some boundaries around it,” Bachman
said. “It’s important to protect your mental
health and physical well-being.”
Th e Queens Chamber of Commerce
has created several new programs aimed
at aiding local businesses in wake of the
public health crisis.
Th e chamber launched QueensBest.
org last month, a website that lists contact
information for restaurants open for
delivery and take-out.
“As the oldest and largest business organization
in Queens, the Queens Chamber
is dedicated to helping businesses through
this crisis,” said Queens Chamber
President Th omas Grech. “Small businesses
are what makes our diverse,
hard-working borough run, and we will
continue to work as hard as we can to help
them fi nd the resources they need.”
Photo via Getty Images
Briskin said. “We created a new
menu with food, beer and wine and started
putting together packages.”
American Brass instituted a special
takeout and delivery platform for a robust
off ering of savory dishes, desserts, wine,
craft cocktails-for-delivery via barman
Aiden Bowie and LIC craft beer — including
its own LIC Beer Project collaboration
brew American Brass Pale Ale.
Th e dinner menu includes nearly a
dozen main seafood and protein-based
main courses including their signature
shrimp scampi, starters like barbecue calamari
and red wine-infused macaroni and
cheese, plats du jour such as their seven
hour lamb shoulder over 10 sides like
sautéed seven beans with bacon. Eight different
desserts are also on off er including
their housemade coconut cake.
“Just for this occasion the liquor authority
is allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol,”
Briskin said. “We hired a couple of
bartenders to make the drinks and we’re
trying our best. We know that this process
is not a money-making opportunity,
and we know we’re going to be running at
a loss. If we can tolerate the level at a loss
we can keep people employed. We’re trying
to fi gure it out.”
According to Briskin, it was a diffi cult
decision to lay off nearly 90 employees
from both restaurants.
“People knew this message wasn’t coming
from us. Th ey knew if you were a waiter
or busboy your job was likely in jeopardy,”
Briskin said. “Nobody is able to support
their families — a lot of our people
work paycheck to paycheck. I couldn’t
sleep for three days. We have a tremendous
responsibility for our staff and we
always put them before ourselves.”
For Briskin, the shutdown of establishments
came a month too late, he said.
“It takes a lot of foresight to shut down
the biggest economy in the world,” Briskin
said. “It should’ve been done earlier and I
wasn’t happy about it anyway. I thought
it was too late and what it meant for us.
I think we’re the last restaurant to open
before the shutdown.”
Briskin said they’re taking necessary
precautions such as consistently sanitizing
the facility wiping down door knobs and
handles. Additionally, they’re partnering
with GrubHub and Seamless to deliver
meals to customers.
“I’m trying to keep my head up so far.
We’re trying to stay positive and be there
for our community and keep everyone
safe hoping for warm weather in trying
to kill this virus,” Briskin said. “We’re all
in it together and we’re here for our community.
We just want people to stay positive
and hope for the best and know it’s
around the corner and this won’t last forever.”