At the two-month mark, the ongoing demonstration aimed to prevent economic and social inequality from corporate greed and corruption, is affecting small businesses surrounding Zuccotti Park.
Milk Street Cafe owner Marc Epstein, for example, said his business is being impacted negatively by Occupy Wall Street, to the point where if the protest does not stop soon, he might go out of business.
The cafe, located two-and-a-half blocks away from Zuccotti Park, has gone down by more than 30 percent since the police barricades were put up to limit the expansion of the protest.
Milk Street Cafe employee Rafi Natan, who was raised in Park Slope and currently lives in Astoria, said “the area used to be really just filled with tourists and with people all over the streets." It was packed all the time, he said.
“When the barricades came up, it became very hard to get in and out,” Natan added, “so people started going on those streets a lot less.”
Another Park Slope resident and worker on Wall Street said he also believes the protesters are the reason why business in the area has gone down 20 to 30 percent. However, he said that some protesters are customers and are “very good tippers.”
Peter Pizza, who lives in Astoria and owns Federal Cafe, which is a block away from the park, said his cliental since the protest has stayed the same. His only complaint about the protesters is their use of his restrooms.
“They go downstairs and they make a mess,” Pizza said. “That’s the only real issue I have. Everything else doesn’t bother me.”
Friendly’s Gourmet Pizza, owned by Flushing resident Pat Pasqule, has a similar stand on protesters.
“They stay in that one-square block,” said Pasqule. “They don’t come here.”
Though protesters may not be customers at the pizzeria, they have tried using their bathroom on numerous occasions. “We have a bathroom for the employees, we don’t have one for them,” Pasqule said.
Joan Beckerman is a Prospect Heights resident and teacher at Clara Barton High School who protests every weekend with the United Federation of Teachers.
“I come down here to join the protest, so I’m not down here shopping,” said Beckerman in regards to visiting local businesses.
Protester Christina Gonzalez, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, said she purchases items from food cart vendors that are located around Zucotti Park.
“When I come out here, I don’t really eat,” said Gonzalez. “If I do, I just go to these little trucks on the street.”
She said she also eats occasionally inside the park, where there is a food booth for occupiers. According to Gonzalez, food served in the park gets ordered from businesses and food vendors in the area.