David Stone
Granny Annie's has been a hit in its first week, and indoor dining is coming soon.
Granny Annie's has been a hit in its first week, and indoor dining is coming soon.
© David Stone/Roosevelt Island daily

While mainstream media filled with laments about COVID restaurant closings, we saw a different story on Roosevelt Island. And as our old favorites and new friends gear up for fall, resilience continues to mark our local stories.

At Nisi, If the Kitchen Can Be Open, It Will Be

Nisi had barely begun its full recovery from a three year renovation eclipse when the coronavirus hit, shutting them down again, but father and sun owners Kaie and Alexander Razaghi never quit. As soon as outdoor dining was permitted, the crew served drinks in the summer shade, while inside, staff whipped up the usual, popular fare for diners as well as takeout and delivery.

Nisi prepares for fall reopening, weatherizing outdoor seating with tent coverings and heat lamps.
Nisi prepares for fall reopening, weatherizing outdoor seating with tent coverings and heat lamps.
© David Stone/Roosevelt Island daily

So, it was a pleasant surprise to see, on the day New York City allowed indoor dining to return that Nisi took it a step farther, expanding its weatherized outdoor space with tent coverings and heat lamps.

Kaie Razaghi, on the cusp of reopening a few years ago, reminded me that he'd been in the business for a long time and always found a way to bounce back from adversity. 

That resilience was evident yesterday, but in a quick chat with Alexander, I learned that adversity is never far away. After spending weeks getting the electrical wiring set up, he found that one of the newly installed heat lamps wasn't working.

Heat lamp ready to shower warmth as Nisi diners chow down in the coming seasons.
Heat lamp ready to shower warmth as Nisi diners chow down in the coming seasons.
© David Stone/Roosevelt Island daily

But he's a Razaghi. He'll have it replaced soon.

In the meantime, the weather's fine for today, an obstacle out of the way.

Welcoming Newcomer Granny Annie's

Granny Annie's owners could never have foreseen the coronavirus challenges ahead when they made a commitment to fill the empty venue left when Riverwalk Bar & Grill folded. But in true Roosevelt Island fashion, they showed their toughness, working diligently through multiple seasons to ready the restaurant for whatever the pandemic tossed its way.

Unlike other food places leased out by Hudson-Related, Granny Annie's team played by rules, keeping permits up to date and just plain sticking with it through the challenges. With zero enforcement from RIOC and Hudson-Related's casual relationship with regulations, Granny Annie's didn't have to. No one was going to stop them from cheating, but they did the right thing anyway.

And it's paid off. 

A quick view of pleasures to come, indoor seating at Granny Annie's is almost ready.
A quick view of pleasures to come, indoor seating at Granny Annie's is almost ready.
© David Stone/Roosevelt Island daily

Most days have seen lines of people waiting to snare an outdoor table, and patience was rewarded.

Yesterday, I joined my friend Sylvan Klein for a late lunch and ate the best, tender fish fry of my life. The service was friendly and fast, and although an afterthought, the generously piled French Fries rounding out my meal were delicious, crisp and fresh. 

We will be back.

Indoor dining isn't quite there yet for our newest restaurant, but it's close. 

Tables are in place, and a pleasant ambience is set. Now, arrangements for temperature taking and other precautions are being tended to, the next phase is something we're looking forward to.

And by the way, when you're there, if you're smart, you'll ask for a takeout menu. Grabbing a meal to carry home, just off the subway, is great, and it's also a hedge against long lines certain for the future.

Additional resources: 


 -Set yourself up for success and insure your small business with Cerity Insurance

 - Read on to find out Why It’s Important To Know What Your Customers Want.

 - Why start your own business.