Dawn Kelly of The Nourish Spot in Jamaica

Dawn Kelly has been the owner of The Nourish Spot located in Jamaica since 2017 and has been promoting healthy living through her small business ever since.
Kelly was inspired to open The Nourish Spot when she lost her job in 2015.
“I was home crying for a while because I had never in my life failed,” said Kelly. “I went to school early, skipped the 3rd grade, went to college when I was 16 years old, and I graduated from Howard University. I’ve worked my whole life.”
Kelly’s business promotes healthy living through smoothies, salads, wraps, and many more other options.
“I was on my own health journey, I walked 10,000 steps everyday, and drank lots of water,” added Kelly. “I was replacing bagels and cream cheese with smoothies because as a New Yorker I love my bagels and cream cheese.”
The one thing that makes her store unique is that all her food and drink options are customizable “unlike Panera.” Not only does Kelly serve the community with healthy options but her own employees are part of other programs like Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) and many other non-profits. One of her employees, Denzel, was an intern at SYEP from the Culinary Program and Kelly after hired him herself.
“I usually hire these young adults and pay them a fair wage after they finish their internships if they show that they’re honest, passionate about food, and hospitality,” said Kelly. “One thing I am proud of is that in 2020 the City had a Restaurant Relief Program that helped small businesses pay their employees $20 an hour for a few weeks and I got picked.
“They did it again for this year and I was picked again so my employees will be able to get $20 an hour for a few weeks again”
Just recently Queens Borough President Donovan Richards visited The Nourish Spot as part of the “Queens Shop Small” initiative to highlight small businesses in underserved communities. Kelly was granted a citation recognizing what she does as a local small business to uplift the surrounding community, from hiring local young people to opening the shop as a true community space and more.

The Unknown Vet

Most of us entered this summer season intending to make up for the one lost to COVID last year. I wonder how that plan is working out, and suspect that like most years, we never get to do all we plan.

This reminds me of how many Veterans return home to a world where they cannot accomplish all they planned. You see, all of us who enter military service, do so with our own dreams of the things we will learn, the places we will serve in, the contributions we can make, and how we will be transformed. Lastly, we wonder how we will benefit from those experiences. For most of us, it is a privilege and an honor to serve our country in uniform. Despite the many risks, most of us benefit personally in countless ways. However, no one ever suspects that enlisting will lead them to suicide – but for those requiring additional help returning home, it unfortunately does. Additionally, help is not always available, resulting in the tragic loss of 22 Veterans each day. This is the reason The Gold Shield was formed; to get those Veterans in need, what they are entitled to… returning home safely, before it’s too late.

As we enter August and begin to fear we are running out of time to enjoy our summer, let us remember those Veterans who are running out of time to live, and what we can do to help them – not only enjoy this last month of summer – but future summers, as we hope to.

The Gold Shield is mobilizing the nation to save the lives of those who protect us. You too can help… Please join The Gold Shield, today… I can’t do this alone.

Fans return to local sports bars despite COVID flare-up

Pandemic-related restrictions on indoor gatherings and hours of operation were lifted on bars across New York State at the end of May, and since then staff at local sports pubs say fans have resumed watching games and matches in social settings. Proprietors are hoping they won’t be forced into another shutdown.
“People are starting to come out more, but who knows how long it’s going to last? I have a feeling we’re going to be put in the hole again,” said James Munson, co-owner of The Village Saloon on Eliot Avenue in Middle Village. “You definitely noticed the difference when the restrictions were on. People didn’t want to go out.”
As the NBA and NHL playoffs were pushed later into the summer to accommodate their modified regular season schedules, fans were getting a reprieve from the capacity rules and curfews that made it nearly impossible for fans to gather.
“We packed the place for the Euro Cup, but the NBA Finals wasn’t as big for us this year, I think because of the two smaller market teams,” said Carlo Fortunato, co-owner of Emblem, a sports bar and beer garden with nearly 20 televisions in Williamsburg. “If the Knicks and the Lakers were in it, I think it would have been different,”
The common trend seen at sports bars is that fans have returned to watch big games, such as the NBA playoffs and major international soccer tournaments, but the after-work ritual of stopping to have a beer and watch a few innings of a baseball game appears to be paused due to the increase of people working from home.
“Baseball is not drawing a big crowd,” said Carmine Gangone, owner of Carmine & Sons, a pizzeria and sports bar in Williamsburg. “People are really not packing my bar unless it’s a big game. I’m hoping football season brings them in.”
Despite a disinterest in the national pastime, bar owners say they have also tried to diversify or tweak little elements of their establishments. Emblem is hosting multiple comedy nights in order to boost traffic on weeknights. Carmine & Sons is featuring a weekly jazz trio on the sidewalk outside their restaurant’s entrance.
The Village Saloon, under new management since May 5, focused on improving their menu when they reopened in the space formerly occupied by Mooney’s Public House. Still, several sports bar owners say the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions coincided with the time of year when many people are away on vacation.
“The summertime is a tough time to own a bar in Middle Village,” Munson said. “A lot of people go away on vacation or for the weekend, and probably more so this year.”
Sports bars with a history of showing a particular sport or team, such as New York Islanders hockey or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, saw crowds return as soon as they could.
“My crowd for MMA is back strong, but during the entire pandemic people called us to ask if we were going to show the UFC fight that weekend,” Fortunato said. “I had to tell them I wasn’t because I had to close by 11 p.m. and pay $1,000 for the fight when I was only allowed half-capacity. It wasn’t worth it for me.”
While the size of the crowds returning to sports bars has been promising, what’s concerning ownership and staff is what happens if the COVID-19 infection rate increases to the point that restrictions on bars and restaurants are reinstated.
Rosann McSorley, whose family owns Katch Astoria, a gastropub and beer garden with 64 televisions and 50 beer taps, is worried she and her staff may be required to ask patrons to wear masks. Katch drew strong crowds for the Islanders run to the NHL semifinals, but has still not returned to its pre-pandemic foot traffic or closing times.
“The mask coming back will be an issue for the bars that do not have outdoor capacity, because people will be concerned,” McSorley said. “I think our business is going to drop for sure. If we are asked to check that people have been vaccinated, that will be another issue.”

Big Trade Deadline

The 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline was one of the more eventful and entertaining that I can remember in quite a while.
There was a ton of activity and big names were on the move and both local teams were actively involved in the proceedings.
The Yankees drastically changed the entire feel of their lineup by adding two lefty power bats in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. When I heard the news about both trades, I was far more enthusiastic regarding the Rizzo move.
It’s nothing against Joey Gallo, who will most certainly help the Yankees with his power, on-base prowess and defense, but he strikes out way too much for my liking.
Rizzo fits the Yankees perfectly. He won a World Series with the Cubs, he is one of the toughest hitters to strike out in baseball, and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base.
This weekend, Rizzo was in the middle of everything for the Yankees in their sweep of the Miami Marlins. He hit two big home runs, a game-tying hit on Sunday, and made play after play in the field.
For months it bothered me to no end that the Yankees lacked enough left-handed hitters. I’m glad they have finally changed that.
Both Rizzo and Gallo should be a part of the team beyond 2021, and will be needed in the short term to help pick up the slack for a pitching staff dealing with all sorts of adversity.
The Yankees will need to be a lot better offensively considering Domingo German was just placed on the Injured List and ace Gerrit Cole recently tested positive for COVID-19.
On the other side of town, the Mets may still be in first place in the NL East, but their recent play over the last few weeks signaled a team in need of a spark. Jacob deGrom is out until September, Francisco Lindor is nowhere to be found, and the team has struggled mightily to score runs.
So like the Yankees, the Mets turned to the Chicago Cubs for help and traded for infielder Javier Baez on Friday afternoon.
Baez plays the game with incredible passion and flair. Those attributes should be a positive for a team in serious need of some energy.
Baez will wow you with his power and flashy defense, but he will also frustrate you with the strikeouts and his decision-making at the plate. Much like Joey Gallo, he is not a perfect player, but he fills a major need for the Mets.
In his debut on Saturday night, Baez wasted no time introducing himself to the Citi Field faithful with a critical two-run homer that sparked a much-needed comeback against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Mets have allowed both the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies to get right back in the division race, but they are still a team very much in the driver’s seat.
They will need a lot more big hits from Baez and others if they are going to find their way to the postseason.
The Yankees and the Mets can only hope that both Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez can be as productive as their debuts this past weekend.
We’ll see if the boys from the north side of Chicago can be the difference in getting the boys from Flushing and the Bronx into October.

You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts every Sunday night and Wednesday & Friday mornings.

Fine-tuning the roster

Summer always brings plenty of chatter as teams in contention look to add pieces to their rosters to get them to October baseball. Meanwhile, NBA and NHL teams use the offseason to try and improve their clubs.
The Mets and Yankees both looked to fine-tune their rosters for postseason pushes. With the Cubs shifting into sell mode, it was the New York teams that split the spoils.
Anthony Rizzo settled in nicely in pinstripes, homering in his first two games as a Yankee. In Queens, Javier Baez crushed his own debut homer, a crucial run in a 5-4 win.
Neither New York team has the easiest path to the postseason. The Yankees sit in third place in what’s easily the hardest division in baseball. They may not be able to hunt down the Rays or Red Sox, but they have plenty of time to lock up a Wild Card spot.
Additions like Rizzo and Joey Gallo make the Bombers’ offense more lethal.
While in first place, injury issues aren’t getting any better for the Mets, especially after Jacob deGrom had a setback in his recovery and will likely remain out until September. The rotation got help as Carlos Carrasco finally made his Mets debut, while also adding Rich Hill and Trevor Williams.
The Amazin’s lineup seems to have cooled off, which is a concern given the pitching situation. With the Philles and Braves on their heels, the Mets need to get back into the groove that got them in first and has kept them there for months.
In the NBA, the next generation of stars were drafted, and with it came a surge in offseason trades and signings. The Knicks made quick moves to bring back Derrick Rose after his phenomenal year at the Garden.
The team also brought back Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, who were great role players last year. The new addition to the Knicks roster is Evan Fourier, signing a four-year deal to add some much-needed offense.
The Nets traded Landry Shamet to Phoenix for Jevon Carter and the 27th pick, adding LSU’s Cam Thomas. It is the second straight year that Shamet was traded on draft day.
The Nets also made sure to bring back Blake Griffin on a one-year deal, a key veteran presence on the bench. Brooklyn definitely needs to keep working and adding pieces to contend for a title next year, but they’re in a very strong spot.
It’s been a busy summer, but will it be enough?

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