Knead to Know – Basics for Business Survival

Dimitri Mikhaylov working the front register at Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

In support of Small Business Saturday, November 28, the Insurance Information Institute spotlights Chelsea Bagel, a business that has stayed resilient during the pandemic.

Deciding on your local bagel shop is a quintessential part of becoming a New Yorker. I’ve made this city my home for the past 17 years now, and it’s the first thing I do every time I move into a new neighborhood. About four years ago, I made Midtown East, Manhattan my home, and it didn’t take long for Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City to become my go-to shop.

Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City is owned by Dimitri Mikhaylov. He opened the shop and its sister restaurant, Chelsea Bagel & Café , along with his brother in 2015. Owning his own bagel shop became a dream after Dimitri invested in another coffee shop a few years prior. Never did he imagine just five years later, the world would be in a global pandemic.

The bagel and spread counter
at Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City

“Prior to the pandemic, we were doing fine covering expenses. We had a steady flow of regular customers and high traffic from tourists. Facing the pandemic and this tough economy has been one of our biggest challenges,” says Dimitri.

In the early days of the pandemic, Dimitri had to make some difficult decisions to keep his doors open. He made reductions in staff, changed hours of operation, and withheld his own paycheck in order to pay his employees.

“The first four weeks of the pandemic, I spent a lot of my own money to meet business expenses, and I didn’t pay myself for 10 weeks,” he says. “My wife and I also had to make the decision to postpone our home mortgage for six months in order to pay for the business.”

“During that time, I thought that my business interruption insurance would have been able to help cover our losses, but after contacting my insurer, I realized pandemics are not covered. The next step was to apply for a government PPP loan.”

The small business PPP loan allowed Dimitri both to cover his expenses and hire back some staff. Since the summer, business has picked up, and he’s slowly welcoming back his regulars. There has been a 25% increase in customers in recent months compared to the start of the pandemic where business decreased by 75%.

In addition to the PPP loan, Dimitri advises that small business owners really look at their expenses to see where they can cut off spending. At the height of the pandemic, he chose to do all the buying himself, which drastically cut down the cost of goods for his shop.

“I’m hoping that the economy returns and brings customers back,” Dimitri says. “This area [New York City] relies on tourists.”

“It crossed my mind not once but many times to give up the business during all this, but hope kept me going. I have a family to feed and my employees have families to feed.”