Like any good dreamer, Dick Fagan spent time writing, listening, and staring out his office window, a detail which is important to this story.

More than 70 years ago, from his desk on the second floor at The Oregon Journal, Fagan noticed a small, round concrete traffic median on top of which a traffic signal would be installed. Construction eventually wrapped up on the median, but no light or traffic signal ever went in.

Soon, the bare space grew thick with weeds and neglect.

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Courtesy of Chef El-Amin
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When non-essential businesses in NYC were ordered to close in March, restaurants across the five boroughs were tasked to pivot fast or risk shuttering their doors for good.

The impact on the city's once vibrant restaurant scene was immediate and devastating. A national survey found that 250,000 people were laid off within 22 days and almost $2 billion in revenue was lost. And soon, numerous restaurant closures became permanent as the pandemic raged on and businesses were unable to keep up with rent and utility payments.

Hot Bread Kitchen, a New York City-based nonprofit and incubator that has assisted more than 275 local businesses in the food industry, knew they needed to support their affiliated businesses in a new light to navigate the financial complexities of shifting business models and applying for loans.

According to Hot Bread Kitchen's CEO Shaolee Sen, shortly after the shutdown began, a third of restaurant workers that they support had been laid off and another third were furloughed.

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