When shoppers think of Black Friday, they think of the sales and the merchandise. However, restaurants and food stands are just as important when it comes to maintaining the shopping frenzy. Even with an estimated downturn in the holiday shopping this year, many food providers are still planning to be extra busy serving high calorie snacks.
Eat, Shop, Shop
Macy’s Cellar Bar & Grill will operate during store hours on Black Friday, according to its website. Nick Lupis, who manages the restaurant, said he usually sees from 30 to 40 percent more customers on the day after Thanksgiving “because of all the sales at Macy’s.” Predictably, peak hours are from 1:30 to 2 p.m. — lunchtime.
He added, however, that Black Saturday is even busier than the much-hyped preceding day. Customers simply no longer are full from Thanksgiving dinner by then.
At Cucina & Co., the deli on the ground floor of Macy’s, Retail Manager Anna Abesamis has noticed the same thing. Depending on the weather, the number of customers who stop by the deli can double on Black Friday. It’s uncertain as to whether Macy’s will see the same turnout this year. “We don’t know. We hope,” said Abesamis.
Lupis said he has no anxiety about the economic downturn. The restaurant will have a full staff on duty, and chefs will order from 20 to 30 percent more food. “Nothing has gone wrong in the last six years I was here,” he said.
Ruben Santos, who works at Jamba Juice in Penn Station, said that on Black Friday at least 40 more customers come in on their way to shop the “early bird specials” between 4 and 5 a.m. Ordinarily the store would get 10 people between those hours.
“Sometimes we stock more,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t, and we ran low.” The store will stock three extra cases of water and three extra boxes of fruit. (During the winter season, the juice shop usually stocks five of each, said Santos.)
Sam Mohany, manager of Le Bon Café, said the biggest sellers on Black Friday are muffins, bagels, rolls and Danishes. Though his store always stocks extra coffee, on holidays he orders “a case or two” more. He also orders two dozen extra of each best-selling baked good.
“We never really run out,” he added, though coffee sells fast and Danishes sell faster.
Guy Peart of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels estimated a 33 percent increase in customers at his three locations in Penn Station. The business will increase its food order by 33 percent, including lemonade, water and dough.
“We can’t afford to run out,” Peart said. “The only time we ever double [the order] is the day before Thanksgiving. That’s the busiest traveling day, and we’re in a train station.” On a typical Friday, Peart said he would order from 33 to 40 percent more of each item: “We prefer to overstock. If we don’t use everything, we cut down the following week. But on a busy holiday, we can’t afford to run out.” The store also schedules five to six more employees to work Black Friday.
The holiday season started on Nov. 3 for Starbucks. True to the holiday tradition of adding as many calories as possible, Starbucks’ holiday drinks can help pack on the pounds. Faced with such choices as the eggnog latte, a drink that the franchise has served for the past 26 years and which has 460 calories per 16 ounces, customers who drink one will be sipping more calories than in a McDonald’s cheeseburger.
Yet not all Starbucks drinkers appreciate the extra calories. Kendy Nguyen, a New York resident who plans to brave the stores on Black Friday, said she prefers the iced green tea latte since “it’s not sweet like chocolate.”
Another Starbucks drinker, Huyen Nguyen, prefers the tall iced chai tea latte. “It’s small and spiced,” she said. One of the main reasons she orders it is its lower calorie count: 180.
In fact, according to a Starbucks spokeswoman, the peppermint mocha is the store’s most popular drink. It doesn’t have nearly as many calories as Starbucks’ other holiday desserts in a cup. In honor of Black Friday, the franchise plans to open its doors early in order to accommodate shoppers.
Worth the Price?
‘Wichcraft, too, is investing in seasonal drinks. Manager Madalynn Gerold said the sandwich shop’s hot chocolate, at $3.67 for a small serving, is worth the money. “It’s real hot chocolate we melt with milk,” she added. “[Customers] can’t believe how expensive it is — but we try to explain to them, it’s liquid brownie.” A small, 12-ounce portion of the drink is worth 574 calories. A large, 20 ounces, is worth 952 calories.
Gerold manages the two ‘wichcraft kiosks in Herald and Greeley squares. On Black Friday, the Herald Square kiosk opens two hours earlier, at 6 a.m., while Greeley Square’s opens an hour early. Though the menu does not change for Black Friday, it does change for the fall — mainly so that the vegetables are seasonal.
The biggest sellers generally don’t change. “Our coffee and tea are in constant rotation,” said Gerold. “We sell sandwiches in equal measure, and always start with a finite amount.” Selling out on weekdays is not a rare occurrence, she added.
During the peak month of November and over the summer, ‘wichcraft increases its orders. On Black Friday specifically, its employees benefit from the many hands that pass over their tip cups — and though Gerold said Black Friday is a busy day, she noted that most days, with the exception of the rainy ones, are pretty busy.
“Whether it’s outside Macy’s or 34th Street, there are just so many more people in the crush of midtown,” she said.
The Most Expensive Hotdog
Times Square is not the place to eat a hotdog if you’re on a tight budget. Nonetheless, on Black Friday tourists are expected to flock to blue and yellow striped umbrellas to buy the overpriced, $3 snack.
If they walked a few blocks south to 44th Street and Seventh Avenue, though, they would find a $2 hotdog. If they walked farther still to 39th Street and Broadway, they would find Halal food carts selling the elusive 99-cent hotdog.
Yet most tourists don’t bother to shop around for the grayish piece of meat that comes in a bun. If they did, they would find that many cart vendors are willing to haggle.
“How much are you willing to give me?” asked a hotdog vendor on 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue after being told that the asking price, $2, was too high. He bumped the price down to $1.50 to avoid losing a sale.
Many vendors are supposed to charge a set price because they’re affiliated with Sabrett, the hotdog giant in New York City. That said, they’re happy to break the rules if it means a sale.
On 36th Street and Broadway, a $1.50 hotdog became $1, and on Eighth Avenue and 44th Street, a $3 hotdog was turned into a $2 hotdog. Ketchup included.