AP PHOTOS: Small business falls victim to virus

March 19, 2020 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — The coronavirus delivered a pair of gut punches to Theodore Peck, owner of a coffee shop and bakery in Brooklyn.

When his 8-year-old son came down with symptoms that prompted their doctor to test for COVID-19, they were quarantined together until the results came back negative.

But while he was confined to his home, New York ordered a near-shutdown of all restaurants to fight the virus. Peck had to close down his business and fire all his workers, and do it remotely.

“My life’s work is being ... you know, destroyed, like picked over,” he said. “I really love my employees and the fact that I didn’t get to say goodbye to 22 of them?” he said.


“I wrote them letters and emails and, you know, reached out and have donated. But I mean, there’s no recourse for being able to say I was in quarantine. I only had like an hour meeting with my staff and my managers before I knew it was going to happen.”

Emergency policies to curtail the spread of the respiratory disease have sent shockwaves through the economy. Small businesses, like Peck’s, are less resilient when faced with reduced foot traffic due to movement restrictions.

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“My business is doing a certain type of business,” said Peck. “And to all of a sudden, you know, ‘Oh, we’re going to move everything to the Internet’ or ’We’re going to move everything to just phone calls?” We’re a community coffee shop. People have to come in to be a part of it.”

Now he and his general manager Kyle Dollinger are cleaning his shuttered storefront. Facing down rent and vendor bills while suffering losses on perishable foods, Peck, who operates two locations, bristles at the federal response to the crisis.

“It’s very challenging when you look at the federal response,” said Peck, “Let’s say it’s very disconcerting when you can’t trust your federal leaders. I guess I’ll put it like that.”