Cafe owner goes outside to keep customers fed

The lunch line was down about 75% on Wednesday.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Cafe Primavera on Market Street has been operating across from the Dutchess County Office Building for nineteen years and has become a staple for breakfast and lunch among the court and government workers in the area.

The outbreak of the Coronavirus and the various temporary restrictions, including workforce reduction, have changed the landscape of the area.  “This is the slowest I have ever seen Market Street,” said Greg Letterii, the cafe owner.

When Governor Cuomo declared that all restaurants needed to become “take-out” only, Letteri knew that he was going to lose some income.  The cafe normally has a crowd of regular dine-in breakfast customers including lawyers, judges, construction workers, and county employees.  The cafe also has a strong take-out client base for breakfast.  All during the week, the lunch line normally has at least fifteen people at any time between 11:30 Am and 1:00 PM. and the dining area usually has another twenty customers that have already been served.  The COVID-19 restrictions changed that business overnight.

Letterii has maintained his 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM schedule and kept his three employees working but has made some changes.  The full menu is still available for breakfast and lunch but it is take out only.  To further ease concerns of social distancing, the cafe has arranged for pre-packaged sandwiches, hot dogs, and beverages to be purchased under a canopy on the sidewalk.  “People are worried about standing close together in line so I thought the sidewalk option would help address that concern,” said the owner.  Wednesday’s inaugural “sidewalk to-go” test run went smoothly and drew interest from the area lunch crowd.

Letterii said “Cafe Primavera is going to provide this lunch service every day, weather permitting until things return to normal.”

Greg Letterii under his sidewalk canopy

Ori Brachfeld owns the Ugly Mug coffee shop a few doors down from Primavera and has noticed a large decline in sales.  “We’re a grab and go shop,” said Brachfeld adding “Half of our regular customers aren’t here because the courts are closed, DMV traffic has slowed, and the county’s non-essential employees are staying home.  This pandemic is affecting everyone – negatively.”