About a year ago, just as the pandemic was hitting New York City, St. John Frizell and his two partners were readying for the grand reopening of Gage & Tollner, a newly renovated, 140-year-old restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn. One day before the March 15 opening — for which the three partners had spent almost a year and a half preparing — they made the difficult decision not to open.
Mr. Frizell retreated to his home in Brooklyn. “The only sounds in the street were ice cream trucks and ambulances,” he recalled. Anxious about going to the supermarket but needing groceries for himself and his son, he reached out to one of his vendors, Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op, to see about having some food delivered. Lancaster was delivering boxes of seasonal produce, but needed an order large enough to be worth the trip. So Mr. Frizell, who suddenly had downtime, did something he hadn’t done in a while: He reached out to his neighbors.