June 27, 2020 By Asha MacKay
Chakra Cafe, a Turkish coffee and breakfast shop located on Queens Boulevard, has weathered the tough days of the crisis.
Having opened one year ago, the operators soldiered on as COVID-19 hit the borough hard. Instead of closing, says owner Ahmet Albayrak, “we came together with employees, sacrificed more, worked more.”
The first few weeks were difficult, but with other coffee shops closed in Sunnyside, Chakra started seeing new customers in March and April.
The cafe’s typical customer base has changed in March and April–young professionals who would regularly commute to Manhattan were replaced, in part, by essential workers with few options to get breakfast. The pandemic also led to an increase in their delivery services.
Chakra has taken a number of safety measures during the crisis. Employees have their temperature taken every morning and all are expected to use gloves, masks, hand soaps and plenty of hand sanitizer.
Overall, COVID-19 was not disastrous for the Chakra’s bottom line.
Albayrak said that Sunnyside’s local Business Improvement District helped a great deal, providing advice along the way.
“Thank God we have Sunnyside Shines,” Albayrak said.
Sunnyside Shines is providing PPE from the NYC Department of Small Businesses free of charge to many local businesses, says Sunnyside Shines director Jaime-Faye Bean.
The BID has also created a WhatsApp group with business owners in the district to communicate regulations and directives from the city.
*Chakra Cafe is located at 44-01 Queens Blvd., Sunnyside. Orders could be placed for pick up by calling 929-462-0051 or by placing it online via Uber Eats or GrubHub.