Jersey City Businesses Pivot for COVID-19
With the COVID-19 crisis continuing its month-long negative effects on every industry in Jersey City with no signs of slowing, local businesses have been forced to shut their doors and do little more than hope for a swift end to the shutdown. Many, however, have tapped into their entrepreneurial spirits and found creative ways to stay open by pivoting their business model or offerings to better fit the needs of the community right now. Here are a few places we found that are switching things up and persevering in spite of the circumstances.
Ani Ramen to Reopen as Non-Profit Pizza and Chicken Joint
After donating food to the city’s medical centers, providing free meals for school children and families, and partnering with anti-hunger associations to give their excess inventory to those in need, Ani Ramen finally had to close its doors at the end of March. You can’t keep an establishment hell-bent on helping down for long, however, as the restaurant announced they would be reopening temporarily as the non-profit Rock City Pizza and Bang Bang Chicken offering discounted meals and allowing customers to purchase donated meals to first responders for an even more reduced price. The Detroit-style pizza pies (rectangular with a thick, crispy crust) of Rock City will cost $11-$13, and donated pies will cost $6-$7. Bang Bang Chicken specializes in Thai-spiced rotisserie chicken and costs $15-$19 while donated meals will cost $8.
The Rock City Pizza/Bang Bang Chicken collab is set to open on April 24th, beginning with the Jersey City location.
sam a.m. Turns into Your New Neighborhood Grocer
sam a.m. is well-established as the place to go in Paulus Hook for daily coffee, no-frills brunch, and friendly service in a place that feels like home, but as brunching becomes a temporary thing of the past, owner Sam Kirk and staff needed to find a way to continue making the restaurant a place where they could serve their community.
“We came up with the first incarnations of the grocery program after some conversations with our community and with other businesses in JC,” said Kirk. “Our coziness put us in a difficult position early in this crisis in wanting to maintain a safe space, so we closed our doors in early March in order to develop a plan on how to serve our community safely.”
This plan turned into a three-day-a-week, well-stocked, in-demand grocery program, that offers dairy items, produce, breads, meats, specialty items, and, most importantly, ice cream from Milk Sugar Love. To comply with social distancing and safety protocols, due to a high-volume of requests, ordering works on a pre-appointment basis to give customers a chance to privately purchase and enjoy a more intimate grocery shopping experience.
For appointments and current stock inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Corgi Spirits Switches to Sanitizer
Corgi Spirits is a popular staple in the delicious drinks poured at our local bars and restaurants, but with the closure of their cocktail-slinging bars and restaurants, the staff needed to brainstorm a new way to serve their neighbors. Corgi, along with other New Jersey distillers as part of the NJ Distillers Guild, decided to switch production over to making hand sanitizer, which was an easy transition as they already have the base spirit on hand and, according to Sales and Marketing Director Leandra Del Pozo, “it just made sense to do it for the community.”
While at first the distillery ran into trouble sourcing packaging, they were able to hit the second wave of need last week with finished production by donating the first batches of sanitizer to the Jersey City police and fire departments before opening up purchase to the general public with bottles of hand sanitizer sloshing around in the same bottles they use for their spirits. They sold out in a day.
“We don’t have the fanciest labels or packaging but we’re a really small team right now doing the best we can,” said Del Pozo. “We’re really appreciative of everybody’s support. That’s what keeps us going. The response has been encouraging, and the purchase of the hand sanitizer is what enables us to give back and donate a good portion of that to our first responders in JC.”
As the main goal is to fuel donations, Corgi will continue making hand sanitizer indefinitely and welcomes hospitals or first responder organizations to reach out to them for donations. Hospitals and related businesses will receive 5-gallon pumps while the general public can purchase the glass bottle 750 ml size, limited to one per person due to demand, or buy any three bottles of spirits and get a bottle of sanitizer for free.
TechnoChic Goes from Unicorns to Face Shields
Natasha Dzurny typically spends her days teaching workshops and putting together innovative tech kits for kids under her company TechnoChic, a STEM education and crafting business that mashes together tech and art through fun projects with a focus on getting girls the resources they need to get into the world of STEM. As lockdown went into effect, however, Dzurny found herself sitting on a lot of supplies and a drive to help the community with her specific skill set.
“When all of this hit, all of my workshops were cancelled, no library, no school, no nothing,” said Dzurny. “I see people making the face shields, and I’m sitting there with all this stock of headbands … and I think, ‘I can make that in five minutes with what I have in a bin in my studio.’”
The headbands came from TechnoChic’s unicorn LED light-up headband kit where girls put together the circuit to make it light up after building the 3D ears and horn. The comfortable headband sparked the idea to turn a cute project into a potentially life-saving tool. Through trial and error, Dzurny came up with a version of a sturdy and simple face shield that would help protect those who wear it and only takes a few minutes to put together. She documented making the prototype on YouTube with a video that has almost 700k views at the time of publication.
Dzurny has donated 10 so far to the COVID-19 clinic in town, but the goal is to donate hundreds more. While demand is in the thousands, with her current supplies, Dzurny can make 300 face shields with the help of volunteers. To aid in her mission, Dzurny has launched a Kickstarter to cover costs of what she’s built so far as well as allow her to make more easy-to-build kits to donate to needy local organizations.
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Luna De Papel Offers DIY Craft Kits
On a typical day, Luna De Papel is a craft sanctuary in Bergen-Lafayette, with in-person art classes for all ages. When owner Ruth Salas got the call that the schools were closing indefinitely, she took her daughters to the temporarily closed studio to load up on craft supplies to keep them occupied at home, which gave her an idea.
“The classes at Luna De Papel are curated to encourage creativity and the imagination,” said Salas. “Having two young girls of my own and knowing we will be spending the next month or so home together, I knew right away it would be important to have alternative activities in the household. The idea to extend the same class experience to the households of my clients was a natural conclusion.”
Using existing supplies from the studio, Ruth put together themed craft boxes of what would normally be taught in her classes, complete with step-by-step instructions and everything children need to complete the crafts, right down to the smock, brushes, and glue. Ordering 50 boxes to pack her new kits into felt like way too many, but the support Salas received blew her mind, and she sold out the first week’s boxes instantly. Now, Salas offers a new themed box each week tailored to age ranges (infant-7/8, 8-12/13), including the past week’s Easter themed box for toddlers which contained a canvas, paints, paper bunny and flower, pom poms, plaster eggs that Salas made herself for painting and decorating, and more.
Thanks to the community’s support, Salas and her family were able to put together 50 free bags of craft supplies to donate to families of hospital workers and first responders and are taking additional requests for donated bags through DMs on Instagram @lunadepapel_JC.
Each kit costs $40 plus $5 for delivery within Jersey City and Hoboken. Free pick up is also available. Order at https://www.lunadepapel.us/.
Jane DO Streams Daily Exercise Classes
Jane DO, located Downtown, is a female-founded fitness center on a mission to build the largest community of the most powerful women through dance, lifting, trampoline classes and more. That said, you can’t keep strong women down even in the face of COVID-19. Despite needing to close their locations during the lockdown, Jane DO switched to an online-only model by launching a brand-new Jane DO On-Demand app with workouts and recipes as well as livestreaming exercise classes multiple times a day from co-founder Jacey Lambros’ garage, ensuring that their community is staying connected and healthy together.
“Seeing how people need to stay connected and keep moving now more than ever, we needed to find a creative solution to keep our Janes DOin,” said Lambros.
“Our only defense against this thing is our health,” added Co-founder Dani DeAngelo.
The DIY set-up is a stark difference from the intimate, supportive environment of the gym studio as members get used to working out alone separated by a screen. However, the model is working as over 1,000 members tune-in on a weekly basis to the Jane DO live stream to keep up their health routines and bring a little “normal” back into a very abnormal situation.
You can join the workouts at janedo.com/livestream and follow them @janedo for a list of classes.
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Even More Pivots:
- Hudson Co. Threads: Specializing in embroidered gifts, owner Leslie Lone is now creating small and large face masks for sale as well as donating masks to seniors in need. DM @hudsoncothreads on Instagram or email email@example.com to purchase.
- Franklin Social: After closing on March 16, Franklin Social has now reopened as Benny’s Sandwich Shop Pop-up featuring sandwiches and cocktail kits with ingredients to make delicious craft cocktails packaged separately in plastic cups, cans, and bottles. Order pickup or delivery through franklinsocial.com or call 201-413-1300, open Thursday to Sunday 4-10 p.m.
- Gaia’s Cavern: Knowing self-care and making time to relax is so important right now, the spa has introduced customized at-home DIY organic skincare boxes with 6-step facial treatments customized to skin needs (acne, aging, dry skin, etc.). Email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to an esthetician to go over needs and order a kit.
- Art House Productions: This gallery and theater is still keeping us entertained with a packed schedule of Zoom events every week, including Drag Bingo, Virtual Storyslam, and Saturday Night Online comedy shows, bringing the stage virtually into our homes.
- Ed&Mary’s: Ed&Mary’s is newly bottling their hot sauce, Ed’s World Destroyer Sauce, for $13 a bottle (try it if you dare!).
- Liberty Science Center: Known as THE destination for a fun, hands-on science experience, LSC has been adding virtual tours and STEM videos to https://lsc.org/, as well as doing live classes on Facebook in order to help make science education available to everyone at home.
- Alpha Minds Academy JC: Teach little ones chess online.
- Virtual Wellness: Yoga and fitness studios all over the city are switching to the online model, including: Body Soul and Pole, Sattva Yoga, Surya Yoga Academy, JC Barre Studio, and Jivamukti Yoga.
- Code Wiz: This STEM learning center for kids has pivoted their business by taking all of their classes and putting them online. Their classes include virtual sessions, secured playtime and camps!