Antun’s of Queens Village, an event space, hosted small business owners last week for a restaurant and hospitality recommendation program hosted by Ree Brinn and the National Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
“We make sure these businesses thrive, and if we don’t work together, it won’t happen,” said Brinn, a sales manager. “It’s no longer about competition, it’s about coming together.”
The purpose of the event was to help address the challenges small business owners face as a result of the pandemic, according to Leonard Mancuso, president of the Queens Chapter of the National Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
“We are not in a position to do things as usual,” Mancuso said. “I want to see if we are able to help by creating these events to increase their income.”
The US Mortgage Corporation was one of the companies present at the event.
“We are asking companies to be part of their new employee benefit programs,” said Tim Kennedy of US Mortgage. “We are offering all employees a rebate of $ 1,595 on closing costs.”
This will help business owners and their employees looking for new homes to save money on the purchase, as as a direct lender, US Mortgage does not come with any of the fees that are typically found in banks. .
“When the loan closes, we’ll donate up to $ 300 to a charity of their choice,” Kennedy said of the company’s affinity program.
According to Kennedy, a mortgage lender, US Mortgage has programs in New York that offer down payment assistance, home improvement assistance, FHA loans, home improvement loans, and conventional loans.
Clifton Stanley Diaz, president of the Autonomous Community of Rochdale Village, Inc., was also on the referral initiative.
“When you have these programs, people have someone they can turn to for information and resources,” Diaz said. “For example, in Rochdale we have a newspaper that is limited to Rochdale, but the good thing is that we went out.
By broadening their horizons through the Hospitality Forum, Rochdale Village representatives were able to reach more people outside of their usual remit.
Albin Castillo, the founder and emcee of Cazz NY Events, shared his journey of working through the pandemic with other small business owners.
“I had to pivot,” said Castillo, a 25-year-old seasoned entrepreneur. “To be successful, I partnered with a printing company and we made birthday and graduation signs. Then we started making balloons and decorations. It kept us afloat.
During the summer, Castillo hosted Zoom weddings and now with the city reopening, he’s back to doing 100-person weddings.
“For Zoom weddings, I had an in-ear microphone and worked with a team,” Castillo said. “They told me to look at the camera that way.”
Unfortunately, as Castillo restructured his business to adapt to the conditions of the pandemic, he lost several of his full-time employees. However, with the business picking up now, the entrepreneur has hired stay-at-home moms and veterans. Currently, he is working on hiring a fourth veteran.
“How can I restart if my full-time employees are gone?” Castillo asked, as his business faced a downturn. “So I said, ‘I need someone who has life experience and a great work ethic.’ Veterans are just amazing and well suited.
Moms also have great organizational experience, added Castillo, who has taken two under his wing.
Mickey King, Antun’s co-owner, was happy to host the event.
“It just seems like a good idea for local business owners to get together and talk at a time when it has literally been the hardest part to own a business,” King said. “The only good thing about coming out of the pandemic is that I was able to share, not only our frustrations, but also other ideas on how to overcome this and work together.”
Getting in touch with other entrepreneurs helped him feel less alone during such a difficult time and he felt a sense of community at the networking event.
With business closed until recently for event spaces like the one in Antun, it was nice to have the forum for his father, Joseph King, the former owner, to come by.
“It was good,” King said. “I think it was great for him and for us. It was great to talk to people again. It’s so much a part of our life.
Dining and event spaces like King’s will open up to 500 people by June 15. Now they can only use 150.
“The best part about it is the exchange of ideas from different industries,” Mancuso said. “Everyone was thrilled to have a new voice to listen to their concerns. We look for upcoming events in advance. “