Looking Back on 2020: The people and the places we’ve lost

It was March 5 when New York Law School closed its campus on Leonard Street — making that the first report of Covid-19 hitting close to home, literally; Starbucks then closed its outlet across the street out of caution. In my mind, that day marked our first “oh shit” moment.

Ramifications from the virus had already hit Chinatown; in mid February, elected officials were urging residents to to support Chinatown businesses and go out to eat, which in retrospect shows you just how naive we all were back then.

Then the shelves cleared at Whole Foods and it all seems a little quaint now, that we thought a big shop would soldier us through a two-week quarantine. Private schools closed “for the week” on March 9, Downtown Little League postponed its season till May 11 — we know how that went — and Taste of Tribeca ended its 26-year streak but then pivoted and started a fundraiser that helped keep local restaurants alive. Studios and kids programs went online best they could, and some chipped in to help virus relief efforts. Restaurants started fundraisers to keep their staff afloat. And if it’s any wonder why people with young children decamped for vacation homes, the playgrounds closed for nearly three months, till late June.

Starting in May, the streets slowly came back to life — on May 13, the first restaurants reopened. The neighborhood then hosted countless protests, put up with a curfew and a spate of looting. In mid June, the mayor declared that drinking in the streets was legal and a whole new restaurant ecosystem began curbside.

Still, despite the moments of hope and high spirit, so much was lost. I culled through the thousand posts I have written in that time and have summarized the losses here, starting with the most painful ones: people who contributed to the neighborhood over decades.


Andy Koutsoudakis Sr., owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen, dies from the coronavirus
A presence in Tribeca for decades since he opened Gee Whiz with his partner in 1989, Andy was dedicated to both his family and his business.

Peter Panayiotou, the owner of Gee Whiz, dies from the coronavirus
With his partner Andy Koutsoudakis, he opened Gee Whiz more than 30 years ago. Now both men have died from the virus, as their families plan to carry on.

Dr. Nisar Quraishi dies from the coronavirus at 74
The internist practiced in Tribeca starting in 1976 — first at Independence Plaza then at 303 Greenwich — and not only saw thousands of patients, but his patients’ children as well.

Downtown street photographer Robert Herman dies at 64
The acclaimed street photographer, who lived and worked downtown, captured the color and the character of New York City.

Anthony Notaro, longtime CB1 member and chair, dies at 69
Over the two decades he lived in Battery Park City, Notaro dedicated his non-working hours to the community, serving on countless committees, boards, panels and coalitions


The business weathered 9/11 and Sandy, but owner Keith Durst couldn’t see an end to the coronavirus and its devastation of the service industry.

The bar, which was part of Matt Abramcyk’s group that includes Smith & Mills and Tiny’s, opened in 2009 with New York Ranger Sean Avery as one of the owners.

The store opened a decade ago, in November 2010, and closed for good on May 17 with little explanation from corporate.

The burger joint that opened on Church and Murray in 2016 shuttered this outlet; its three others are still going in Midtown and in Fidi.

The Battery Park City outpost of one of the city’s most venerated Chinese chefs — Wellman Wu of Peking Duck House — shuttered in May.

The cryotherapy studio next to Tracy Anderson closed for good.

The banh mi and pho fast casual on Church and Thomas closed in late May, but its sister store in Fidi was scheduled to open in June…

The women’s clothing store on Greenwich, opened by two locals in 2013, couldn’t weather the blow delivered by the government shutdown of small business.

The shop with the beachy vibe that opened here in 2013 closed, but its sister stores reopened out east after a temporary shutdown for the virus.

As if the three months of quarantine were not enough of a blow, the owners didn’t see a path forward once it looked like office buildings would be closed till September. They were also looted during the protests. With them went a piece of old Tribeca — Maxwell was the proprietor there in the 1930s.

The longtime neighborhood fixture that was originally on West Broadway never reopened after the quarantine first started.

The diminutive yet lively wine bar on West Broadway and Warren decided to close its Tribeca location, just as it started to reopen its uptown spots.

The loss of this store — a fixture on Chambers for what I am guessing is three decades — dealt a real blow to the neighborhood.

Salaam Bombay, which opened in the neighborhood in about 1995, when Ruth Reichl gave it a glowing review, left its longtime spot on Greenwich.

The makerspace and technology program for kids on Laight and West streets closed its Tribeca location, but is still offering programs online and in Brooklyn.

The board game emporium, which was founded as a way to get kids off screens, packed up its Tribeca location on Chambers (the former thrift store) now that screens are all there is these days.

Longtime Tribecan Yasmine Karrenberg moved back to France after business at Le District had just about ground to a halt.

The subterranean restaurant underneath A Summer Day Café had a travelling smoker going for a while, but eventually closed its doors here permanently.

The city outlet of the Sag Harbor studio founded by Colleen Saidman Yee closed permanently along with its upstairs neighbor, Kula Yoga.

With dogs now home full time with their owners, or out of the city altogether, services for them shuttered around the neighborhood.

The women’s shoe store opened three years ago, adding a gallery-type feel to the former newsstand at 60 Hudson.

Keith McNally’s latest restaurant opened in The Beekman hotel in 2016 and was celebrated for its beauty and bustle. McNally also closed Lucky Strike in April.

The stretching studio on Greenwich had just opened this past fall, and is now another victim of the pandemic and hoping to pivot to digital.

The Australian native opened the Tribeca outpost in 2018 and only had a two-year lease here, still it’s sad to see that prime spot empty.

The Japanese restaurant, which was a staple on Duane Park since 2002, closed for good after the city refused to relocate the Citi Bike station, blocking the restaurant’s opportunity for curbside dining.

After seven years on the corner of Watts and Greenwich, the owners decided to close under the pressures of rent and lack of customers.

Sophie’s Cuban, which was born downtown in 1997 and despite heavy losses after 9/11 continued to expand here, closed its Chambers Street location permanently.

Owner Michele Iuliano started with Luzzo’s in the East Village, Ovest in Chelsea, the two Gnoccerias — East 4th and Wall Street — and the newly opened Ampia rooftop at 100 Broad.

The local chain from the Village had started to renovate the Ecco! location on Chambers when the pandemic hit. They cut bait in August.

The lighting designer that opened on Walker in 2012 moved its operations to Brooklyn, where they can “better control our surroundings.”

The school has been a fixture on the south side of Warren for 31 years, as were some of its teachers who taught entire families of kids.

Finding a lot of success online — and with the future of indoor classes still uncertain — the makerspace decided to take its program fully virtual.

The London-based chain opened here in 2017 and had a dozen stores across the country that they have now closed permanently.

The store was founded here in 1961 and became not just a neighborhood institution but a tourist destination and a 9/11 survival story.

The seafood restaurant on Duane was silent for much of the quarantine, but finally cleared out the contents on Reade.

The grocery store and prepared foods market that has been a staple downtown since 1999 had been functioning at 10 percent, and couldn’t make it any longer.

City hotels are limping along at 40 percent occupancy rates, and while some of ours are back open, a couple have yet to announce their return. AKA Wall Street closed for good; AKA Tribeca is still shuttered with no official word.

The Thai boxing gym, run by a British expat and welterweight champion, closed its physical space permanently but continues to run its classes online.

This is perhaps the only happy story in this list. Alex Villani, who had been selling his catch at the Greenmarket for 32 years, closed his stall for good on Halloween in order to retire and fish only when he felt like fishing.

The home goods and menswear store that opened here in 2013 closed its store on White and eventually shut down its entire business.

The barre- and Pilates-based workout franchise opened on Warren three years ago and had a devoted following.

The Japanese restaurant on Chambers opened here exactly six years ago in the former Jerry’s space.

The Tribeca mainstay on Church Street tried to make a go of it in the pandemic era, but could not catch up.

The gym opened in 2013 on three levels at 97 Reade, and is still offering private sessions and online classes from its uptown location.

Owner Tom Galis combined his two Greek restaurants and market into the one location on Washington, which now is making good use of the sidewalk bridge.

Pier A Harbor House, which opened in 2014 at The Battery, is closed for the foreseeable future. It’s a loss, especially given its generous outdoor space.

The popular gym on Chambers — 10,000 square feet on three levels — will not reopen.

The casual and cozy bar that was a favorite of both locals and office workers closed in October after 11 years on Reade.

Café Clementine closed its West Broadway and White space and promised it is seeking a new location in the neighborhood.

The brand was founded here in 1994 by John Birch, and now is operating out of its Bushwick workshop and Sagaponack showroom.

The highly curated baby clothes collection is still open at eight other locations, including Williamsburg and DUMBO.

The Chinatown/Soho/Tribeca stalwart — in business for five decades here — said it would close in the new year, but there may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The store on Broadway is still open, and maybe will stay?

The first cultural institution in the neighborhood to give in to the pandemic, the poetry library in Battery Park City let its staff go and its top two directors retired.

With the office buildings empty until at least next summer, the neighborhood’s fast casuals are struggling; Tom Colicchio closed both his downtown outlets.

Its massive store on Duane was the testing center for custom perfumes and opened in 2011.

Abey Nails on Chambers closed permanently, but much of the staff has moved over to Affina on at 125 Church at Murray.

The poké restaurant was founded by two New Yorkers in Chelsea in 2016 after a chance discovery on Maui.

The local New York chain opened an outlet here more than a decade ago; its West Village flagship is still open.

The Israeli chain that opened its outlet here in 2012 has a few locations still open, but none in the city.

The native-to-Tribeca kids gear store opened a second outlet in Brookfield in 2015 and will now consolidate its operations at its Warren Street shop.


Several businesses closed in January and February, by coincidence, but I am mentioning them here, since now those spaces will be empty even longer.

The theme restaurant, where diners entered a warren of rooms designed to evoke a medieval Japanese village, closed after 15 years.

The restaurant 10 Corso Como at the Seaport was closed for the holidays and then closed for good.

The bar at Pier A, created by the team from the Dead Rabbit in Fidi, closed after a little more than three years on the scene.

The yoga studio on Warren between Broadway and Church condensed its downtown classes into its Soho location on Broadway and Grand.

The restaurant on Spring was opened in 2001 by Giorgio DeLuca and partners and remained a chic yet casual favorite just over the border in Soho.

The company closed its 254 stores nationwide — including ours on Reade, Broadway and in the WTC mall — after 70 years in the greeting card business.

Struggling even before the coronavirus hit, both fitness companies closed locations around the country and were then likely to file bankruptcy.

The restaurant on West Broadway and Reade closed gradually — at one point opening just for private parties.

The barber shop on Church — part of a Miami chain — closed after a few months on the corner of Duane.

Celebrated chef Masa Takayama’s more casual robata and the downstairs addition of Masa’s raw bar on Leonard closed on Feb. 7.

Our location at Chambers and Broadway across from City Hall had been in that spot for 70 years, since Henry Modell opened a job training program there in 1946 and a retail store three years later.

The archive of millions of LPs from the post micro-groove era, along with all sorts of music ephemera, was forced to leave White Street and relocated to Westchester County.



  1. This is a sad list. I am sorry to see it, but thanks for doing the research. Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. Believe a few more places have taken a hit and closed as well:

    – Rumble Boxing on West St was temporarily closed, but the signature decal has been removed from the door so looks like it’s permanent

    – Bliss Bowl on Greenwich Street has been shutdown for months, totally dark inside. Believe it’s permanent as well.

    – Poke Green also on Greenwich has closed permanently. There’s now a “for rent” sign in the window

    So sad to see so many places close!

  3. I’ve lived in Tribeca for over 25 years and seen businesses open and close but not as much as this. Especially some of the bigger stores and stores who have been a fixture in Tribeca. This made me really sad reading this. Any word on what they will do with the century’s location. Such a massive space. Hoping relief comes to our neighborhood and we can celebrate new business soon.

  4. What a devastating loss to our community.
    I’m happy to report that Vietspot FiDi has been in operation and continues to serve up the best bahn mi around.

  5. We live in such a tiny neighborhood… to see it all listed like this in black and white…so many losses… then expand it out – city, state, nationally… just devasting.

  6. This retrospective + list, so painful to read, also reminds us how lucky we are to have Pam F and Tribeca Citizen to report and care about our community. Thank you Pam.

  7. Sadly, many on the list would have not made it even if Covid didn’t happen. It is very tough to have a successful business in Tribeca. The population is just not dense enough to support many businesses here. I am surprised some of them lasted as long as they did.

  8. CENTURY 21 coming back. Will announce new locations! Things are looking up.

    • I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the C21 closing regardless of what they claim about insurance etc, because the Gindi family had and continues to have so many assets. In my opinion, the pandemic may have presented the perfect platform for them to file for bankruptcy, they got out of not paying their vendors and then were allowed to repurchase the Century 21 brand at rock bottom prices and move on with their Worldwide expansion agenda without having to deal with their local brick and mortars. This happens all the time with retail and the vendors/designers don’t get paid and always get screwed.

      …. I may be wrong, but that’s my hunch.

      Here’s an article on Century21.

  9. This list makes me sad and is way too painful to read. Hoping whoever is left can hang on until summer. I rarely see anyone shopping. Hoping the new indoor dining can bring a boost to the restaurants.

  10. Loss. So much of it. Grateful for your writing as it truly helps keep the spirit alive in the community. I know it does for me.

  11. Balloon Saloon, is my place started with my husband almost 40 years ago. We’re still a family business we’ve lived thru significant changes in the neighborhood. 911 disaster left us thinking it was the end of a once vibrant neighborhood. We cried and tried to persevere overcoming great hardships. When I first moved to Tribeca, Duane Street was a wholesale shoe district from West Broadway to Church Street, to the west it was dairy and eggs. City workers and artists filled the spaces, no schools, no Whole Foods, no gyms, basically no neighborhood amenities. Then the demographics changed, young families brought vitality to the neighborhood. They brought nightlife, schools, restaurants and cool stores thrived.
    I have the great privilege to see the kids that came in and now return with their own kids.
    However, something disastrous happened preceding Covid;
    Amazon! Mom and Pop stores simply can’t compete.
    We are the life blood of every community. Mom and Pop stores are unique and fun.
    We Bring The Happy!
    Only thing, it’s not delivered in a cardboard box with a smile on it. What about high crime, defunding and demoralizing the police,corrupt politicians, parking tickets, sanitation tickets, vanished tourists. A vaccine can’t help these insidious problems. Luckily we have a terrific store with so much fun stuff, voted
    Most Fun Store in the City! We create fabulous balloon bouquets and balloon decor and now deliver to the New Yorkers who’ve left the city and fled to the Hamptons.
    I’m hoping our neighbors return and patronize local shops. My appeal to you all in the neighborhood who feel badly about the long list of lost restaurants and stores to patronize us. Shop Local is not just a slogan it’s a lifeline.
    Thank you, Sharon Balloon Saloon

    • To Sharon Hershkowitz, Balloon Salon! I applaud you!! I have been and still am a loyal costumer of your store since my kids were little, they are now in their twenties. Every Holiday or birthday or just for the fun of it I come in and purchase in your store. Sometimes I just look around at your beautiful store filled with unique toys from back in the day and present. Your balloons are just beautiful ! You and your staff also are very kind. I have to say your 100 percent on supporting mom and pop stores. Also, your on point about The high crime, defunding etc..in this city. This isn’t all about covid. I do not have another place to run to down here lol. Lets pray our neighborhood and the rest of the city comes back. We do need new people for our community not criminals in office. We been through it all. Hopefully we get through this too!

  12. Yes, support those businesses that are still here! Balloon Saloon, Barnes & Noble Tribeca, Mysterious Book Shop, Book Nook, etc.
    Many of us still take daily walks around the neighborhood. Don’t hesitate to stop in to these places and show support or there will come a time when you wish they were still here. Take your kids there and show support. Show them their flowers now. Show them you appreciate them.