Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Popular India Square “won’t be the same again” 

Jayesh Modi,owner of a home appliance store at India Square, coronavirus. HIs business has been hurt because of the coronavirus shut down. Photo by Gaurav Sharma

India Square, the popular South Asian marketplace  in Jersey City, is set two reopen on June 15, but owners believe the market’s future is bleak.

“It’s so bad here. The entire market has incurred a monthly loss to the tune of $4 to $5 million,” said Raju Patel, the president of Travel World, a travel agency and president of the Jersey City Asian Merchant Association, an advocacy group for local Asian-owned businesses.

Located along a one-mile stretch on Newark Avenue, India Square has about 95 outlets that range from Indian restaurants and jewelry stores to bars and grocery shops. About 10% of Jersey City’s population is Indian American, a major contributing factor to the thriving businesses at India Square. 

 Once a bustling market thronged by hundreds of patrons every day, it’s now deserted.  High rents and few customers due to the coronavirus, has created huge losses. Store owners said it would take them a  over a year to recover losses incurred during the three-month shutdown. 

 Patel’s travel and tour business has done no business since mid-March. 

 “Who do you think will travel even after the government reopens?” asked Patel.

 The restaurants at India Square have also taken a hit. They didn’t do any business in April. Although many of them started takeout and delivery services in May, their sales were only about 20-25%. 

“We won’t see even a nominal increase in the revenue when we reopen,” said  Satinder Saggar, the owner of Rasoi, a restaurant.

“Why would people come out and eat when there is a threat of the coronavirus?” 

Before the pandemic, Rasoi saw about 70 to 80 patrons on weekdays and over 150 people visited the restaurant on weekends. But business in May dropped 75%. 

“How can a restaurant survive with only 25% of business after making no money for two months? We will survive because we are old in the business,” said Saggar who owns two other restaurants in Jersey City and New York City.    

In phase two of reopening, restaurants are allowed to have only outdoor sitting .   None of the restaurants at India Square have outdoor space so they will continue to have to depend on takeouts and deliveries. 

 Sagar said when Rasoi reopens he would be able to hire back only seven of the  12 employees he had before the outbreak. 

Many business owners said they are pinning their hopes on a  vaccine to salvage their businesses. 

 Some jewelry stores at India Square are facing closure. 

 “Why would someone buy jewelry during this time?  With wedding and other functions being postponed and canceled there is no chance we will get sales,” said Wahid Akbari, 48, who owns Sara Jewelry.  

 The only stores thriving are the square’s grocery stores. 

 “The only thing we worry about is the supply chain that might get affected due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in India,” said Sushma Patel, 41, owner of Apna Bazaar grocery store. 

 Jayesh Modi, who owns a home appliances store, said that the Paycheck Protection Program loan,  a forgivable loan program introduced by the coronavirus stimulus bill,  wouldn’t be of much help if stores don’t do business.

“I got a $15,000 loan. It can help me survive for a while but I need business,” Modi said. “Never have I seen such destruction. Let’s see how many stores reopen on June 15. Some might never(reopen). India Square won’t be the same again.


Tags


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Life returns to the East Village

Quincy Walter May 5, 2021

Reopening for Ramadan

Hassan Abbas May 4, 2021

And the band played on

Xavier Bartaburu May 2, 2021

Queens residents mourn at Covid vigil

Annie Burky May 2, 2021

Floating for Free: COVID and the Staten Island Ferry

Trish Rooney May 2, 2021

COVID-19 has left many Black and Hispanic landlords in serious debt

Norah Hogan April 24, 2021

Village East movie theater reopens to the public

Inga Parkel April 13, 2021

Chinese adoptions halted by COVID

Inga Parkel March 24, 2021

Remote is the new workplace normal

Courtney Guarino March 24, 2021

One year of COVID-19 in New York City

Michelle Diaz March 16, 2021

COVID long haulers deal with lingering symptoms and doubt

Kaity Assaf March 5, 2021

Pandemic Weddings

Chuyan Jiang March 2, 2021

Pandemic fatigue 101

Chuyan Jiang February 28, 2021

Yankee Stadium becomes COVID-19 vaccine site for Bronx residents only

Michelle Diaz February 24, 2021

The queer community rallies behind their sacred spaces closed because of COVID-19

Inga Parkel February 23, 2021

Street vendors struggle as New Yorkers and tourists stay home

Norah Hogan February 13, 2021

Keeping the faith in COVID-19

Courtney Guarino February 3, 2021

Little Italy’s restaurants need indoor dining to survive pandemic

Michelle Diaz February 2, 2021

Stray pets find homes and love during pandemic

Inga Parkel February 1, 2021

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

James Pothen December 5, 2020

New York City, a place of refuge 

Edith Rousselot December 4, 2020

Commuting in a pandemic world

Michelle Diaz December 3, 2020

Battling food insecurities during a pandemic

Courtney Guarino December 3, 2020

Adaptation

Justin McGown December 3, 2020

Honk!: Cars earn a special spot in 2020

Luana Harumi December 3, 2020

Working out looks very different during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang December 2, 2020

One kitchen’s transformation in the age of isolation

Isabel Beer December 2, 2020

Nursing homes are filled with sadness and loss during pandemic shut down

Inga Parkel December 1, 2020

The show goes on

Norah Hogan December 1, 2020

Loyal members help keep independent cinemas afloat

Courtney Guarino December 1, 2020

Musicians deal with the reality of no live shows as covid takes center stage

Paola Michelle Ortiz December 1, 2020

 Black Friday’s Aftermath

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi November 30, 2020

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020