In the shadow of Trump Tower, small businesses suffer

Trump Tower security weighs on small business

The holiday season is typically a busy one for Judge Roy Bean Public House in midtown Manhattan.

The bar and restaurant had been on a solid run, up 20 percent overall for the year, and owner Peter Pernicone had high hopes for strong sales to close out 2016.

Then came Election Day.

The small business is located in the shadow of Trump Tower on West 56th Street, which is now swarmed with New York police officers and Secret Service agents, guarding President-elect Donald Trump as he makes the transition from businessman to commander-in-chief.

"For November, we're down 30 percent," Pernicone said. "They're keeping the streets open, then closing them down. There's no rhyme or reason. We don't know what to expect. The police presence on the corner has been intimidating, and tourists are scared to walk down 56th street."

Peter Pernicone, owner of Judge Roy Bean Public House, says added security measures near Trump Tower are tanking business.
Kate Rogers | CNBC

Businesses on the street say they weren't prepared for what a Donald Trump presidency might mean for their bottom lines. Nearby Italian restaurant Il Tinello Ristorante has been taking a similar hit: Revenue is down at least 30 percent since the election.

"A lot of people who go here for lunch especially, they like to be dropped off and picked up," said maitre d' Gentian Shotaj. "Now they cant do that. We are getting a lot of complaints, and I do have concerns for my job. If it keeps going like this I am going to get laid off."

The restaurant's owner, John Goci, says the restaurant has been in his family nearly 30 years and he has never seen anything like the slowdown brought on since Election Day. If sales continue to plummet, he will consider relocating elsewhere in midtown.

Oscar Rodriguez, chef at Printon 56, says extra foot traffic near Trump Tower has brought in new customers.
Kate Rogers | CNBC

One business-owner isn't complaining: Printon 56, which has a deli and cafe, as well as a neighboring pizzeria. Chef Oscar Rodriguez, who has worked there 15 years, says the police presence has brought in extra foot traffic and new regular customers.

"It has kept us busy all day long," Rodriguez said. "We are getting a lot of walk-in customers and orders on the phone, including the police people who are our new customers."

Taking Action

Pernicone of Judge Roy Bean says he has reached out to his city councilman, Dan Garodnick, but so far the conversation has not amounted to action. He and his co-owner, Derek Walsh, are drafting a petition to present to the city, requesting that the street be reopened to traffic.

In a statement, Garodnick said the current security setup is "unsustainable" for small business owners.

It continues: "We are not going to compromise the protection of the President-elect, but the current security apparatus in the vicinity of Trump Tower is choking businesses in this area. This is especially acute for smaller establishments on West 56th Street, who depend on pedestrian traffic for a significant portion of their sales.

"Revenue is down and shop owners are not happy."

Pericone said he's more than just unhappy, he's scared about what things will look like after Inauguration Day.

"It's an unknown right now," he said. "We don't know what the police presence will be and we don't want this for the next four years. We just signed a new 10-year lease."

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