Action inside Yankee Stadium’s wasn’t the only highlight of Opening Day; Bronx businesses around the ballpark prepared for a comeback and fans were thrilled to be back in person on Thursday.
Yankees fans flocked to the area; for many, it was the first time since the pandemic forced a shutdown. Their absence since the start of the pandemic has hurt neighborhood businesses.
“It’s a step closer. It’s good: it’s Yankees, it’s springtime and we’re moving closer to normal,” said Patrick Feenaghty.
With the new season, Bronx businesses are in full swing. Like most of the restaurants, pubs and vendors in this neighborhood, Stan’s Sports Bar General Manager Michael Rendin relies heavily on the baseball fans. But no fans over the past year meant major uncertainty, and now he can only welcome back patrons at 50% capacity.
“It’s a new beginning and by the summertime we’re looking to be back on top,” he said. “If this is the biggest crowd we’re going to get, it’s going to be very tight to make money with labor costs regular bills.”
Around the corner at Yankee Tavern, owner Joe Bastone blamed the pandemic for the slowest game day opener in the history of this nearly century old establishment. He’s worked at Yankee Tavern since he was 9, when he started as a bus boy, so he’s very familiar with what Opening Day should look like.
“My payroll today and merchandise is more than the money we’re taking in, but we’re hopeful it’s going to get better,” said Bastone.
Despite the challenges, many say game day’s a fresh start to welcome back the Bronx Bombers and 10,000 people expected to attend the ball game.
Business owners called on fans and the community to safely come out and support them.