Nearby Businesses Struggle Amid Trump Tower Protests

Nafisa Masud @nafisa_masud


Early on a gray Tuesday with the sun struggling to wrestle its way through thick rainclouds, the next round of protests outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue is already starting.

It’s a full week since Donald Trump became President-elect and there is no sign that anti-Trump marches and rallies are fading. And that’s bad news for businesses along Fifth Avenue.

Police have blocked entrances to Trump Tower and have completely closed off 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. For many businesses, this means less foot traffic as customers struggle through barricades and the occasional ID check to get to the stores. Others have also faced security issues as angry rioters forced them to close shop early on Saturday, some as early as 2 p.m.

Kazuki Itoda, who has been a cashier at the Japanese deli Dainobu on 56th Street for a year, had never seen such a large protest before. “On Saturday some employees couldn’t even get into the store,” he said. “One of the employees waited three hours to get in.”

Under other circumstances, the presence of lots of pedestrians would be a good thing but Selim Mishuque, part-owner of restaurant Printon 56, a short distance from Trump Tower, says he hasn’t seen a boost in customers among protestors.  “The protestors don’t help, but Trump being here helps,” he said. “With the security, we see more NYPD officers coming here to eat. “ Only 5 to 10 percent of their customers are new, though,” he said. “The regulars always come for food. It’s walking distance, and everyone needs to eat.”

But others, like Sonya Williams, are more pessimistic. Williams has worked at the Judge Roy Bean Public House at 38 West 56th St. for over 10 years since moving from Dublin, Ireland, and she says even the regular customers have stopped coming. “It’s killing us,” she said. “Usually it’s packed. You have to wait for a table. But the regulars only have a 45-minute break from work, the streets are blocked off and sometimes they’re stopped by the police for ID. It’s impossible.”

Williams thinks the protests will continue, and she foresees bigger problems ahead. “Christmas sales are gonna be ruined,” she said. “Around Thanksgiving, you rely on that time to shop before the snow and weather gets bad. Now the revenue for Christmas will be affected.”

John Goci has been the manager of Il Tinello  Ristorante for five years, and this past weekend the protests got so bad that the 32-year-old Italian restaurant ended up closing two hours early for lack of business. “We had customers with reservations who couldn’t get in because of the NYPD,” he said. “They were a group of six or seven, drove all the way here, parked and then couldn’t get in. They had to call and cancel.” He says the lack of foot traffic is certainly a problem, but with the protests going on, many customers don’t want to be in the area. “Everyone knows we’re here,” Goci said. “The customers are calling and asking ‘Are you even open?’ But they don’t wanna be around.”

For now, the businesses around Fifth Avenue have little choice but to wait out the protests. Williams doesn’t believe they’ll accomplish much. “The only thing that’s gonna happen is New York is gonna suffer.”


Along Fifth Avenue, pedestrians are forced to maneuver around barricades while several police vehicles stand watch. (The Ink/Nafisa Masud)


Outside Trump Tower, barricades have been erected to reduce foot traffic, although some pedestrians  still crowd near the building’s entrance. (The Ink/Nafisa Masud)