Gene’s Restaurant. Map data © 2020 Google
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, longtime Greenwich Village resident Sarah Jessica Parker posted a heartfelt note to Citi Bike, hoping they can help save one of her favorite local restaurants. Gene’s Restaurant has been located on West 11th Street near 6th Avenue for 101 years. But because of a Citi Bike rack right outside their front doors, the Italian restaurant has been unable to set up outdoor dining and is struggling from the pandemic fallout. “I’m happy to help move the @citibike rack just a bit east to make room for some outdoor seating. Whatever it takes,” wrote SJP, who is a Citi Bike rider herself.
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Hello @citibike (I’m a rider!) Hello all of our local/district elected officials As we all know small businesses all over the country and those here at home, uniquely NY are desperate to survive and open their doors and or sidewalks safely, responsibly and in compliance with the law in order to welcome back their long time and new customers. But we have to be supportive and work together so that we might sooner than later return to a version of our vibrant and dynamic city. Please, please, please can someone reach out/respond to Mr. Ramirez and help him clear the red tape so that he might have the outdoor seating he wants to offer to his customers. This 100 year old restaurant was bought by the current owners father in 1979 after emigrating from Spain and starting as a waiter. His son David Ramirez is the current owner and 73 11th st is a destination for countless in the community. My family among them. I’m happy to help move the @citibike rack just a bit east to make room for some outdoor seating. Whatever it takes. Love @citibike love Genes. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If we say we are supportive of our small businesses, we have to mean it. There must be a solution. Anyone, anyone? X, SJ #savegenes And thank you @ninapwabc for your reporting!
Gene’s Restaurant was founded in 1919, and it’s been under the same family ownership since 1979. According to a 2008 Eater article, 90 percent of the customers are regulars and locals.
On March 31, Gene’s started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for its employees. “This pandemic has effectively put Gene’s out of business for an indeterminate period, and as such, has left our employees without a paycheck…without an income..without a way to support their families,” they wrote. To date, they have raised $24,025 of their $25,000 goal. But despite that success, WABC, who first covered the issue at Gene’s on Wednesday, reported that their business is down 90 percent.
“With the seating in the street I could put about four more tables there and that’s the equivalent of a station,” Gene’s owner David Ramirez told WABC. “That would mean I could actually hire somebody back.”
Ramirez, whose father emigrated from Spain and started as a waiter at Gene’s before buying the restaurant in 1979, first appealed to the Mayor’s office, who referred him to the DOT, who referred him to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who referred him to his local Community Board. He is only asking for Citi Bike to relocate eight bike spots and has suggested moving them across the street where there are no businesses.
7 On Your Side approached Citi Bike owner Lyft about the issue, but the company said the racks are the responsibility of the Department of Transportation. The DOT was not cooperative, and City Hall official Mitchell Schwartz told them, “We aren’t able to relocate essential transit infrastructure for individual applicants,” though he did say his office would work with Mr. Ramirez in other ways.
However, 7 On Your Side also spoke with Speaker Johnson, who told them he wants to work with the DOT to find a solution. “Outdoor dining is a lifeline to the small businesses we love and want to see survive and we should be willing to get creative to make it work for as many restaurants as possible. My office will continue working with this local business owner to try and help as best we can.”
Sarah Jessica Parker and her family have lived in various townhouses around the Village for many years. In 2016, she and husband Matthew Broderick dropped $34.5 million on two homes on West 11th street, just a couple blocks from Gene’s. SJP’s Instagram post has so far received 37,500 likes and 820 comments, many of which say they’ve reached out to Citi Bike individually to ask for help for Gene’s.
Neighborhoods : Greenwich Village