The call awoke Mustafa Sav after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.
It was from his building manager, Alan Scott. He explained something Sav had already expected -- police had evicted Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park.
That was the bad news. For the movement's near-two-month occupation of
Zuccotti Park, Sav's Country Café inside the public square at 60 Wall St. had thrived.
The worse news, Sav soon learned, was that the public square would be closed Tuesday morning. The NYPD feared it would not be able to handle a rush of protestors inside the public square.
So the Country Café, normally open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (hours that were extended as a result of Occupy Wall Street) could only do business from 3 to 8 p.m. Sav said he lost 80 percent of business Tuesday, or around $1,000.
They're peaceful protestors, Sav said in an interview Wednesday. Some protestors came here the next day and they were talking to themselves: 'Is this America?' 'Is this America?' It's disbelief, almost, that people can use overwhelming force against peaceful people.
Sav's story, he admits, is a very peculiar one. He owns one of the businesses that has profited most from Occupy Wall Street, since the protestors have used the public square as an unofficial hub. Sav has expanded his hours and is now open on Saturdays, and he hired two additional employees. Other businesses have not seen the same results, losing money and customers.
As full-time occupation of Zuccotti Park effectively ended Tuesday with a court ruling that protestors could not bring sleeping bags or tents into the park, the area's business owners reacted with mixed emotions. Some, like Sav, were disgusted at the way the NYPD handled the eviction of the protestors. Some cheered. Some were relieved, but hoped the Occupy Wall Street campaign would take on a different form.
Predictably, Sav's business has taken an immediate hit. Sav said the public square will be closed at least in the morning on Thursday, as protestors are planning a Day of Action and taking their protest to the stock exchange and City Hall to mark the two-month anniversary.
The building manager said that the protestors, by and large, are very nice and peaceful, Sav said. Even he cannot understand. But the police make him close this place.
Up Wall Street you go. Marc Epstein, the owner of the Milk Street Café, felt relieved when he learned of Zuccotti Park's eviction. For a moment, at least.
The barricades that have plagued the café's business are still up. There's no end in sight for that. And, so Epstein said the park's eviction was just one step in a long line he needs for his café to survive.
Epstein's story gained much publicity when he revealed he had to lay off 21 employees as a result of lost business during the protests. He said the barricades surrounding his café have dramatically reduced foot traffic in the area, and he told the IBTimes last week that every week he stays open is a miracle.
And so, this minor step was not enough. The future of 75 jobs -- and his café -- remain at risk. It's a numbers game, and every way Epstein crunches it, he can't see his café lasting much longer.
He said in a phone interview Wednesday that business has fallen nearly 30 percent since the Occupy Wall Street movement started two months ago. That's factoring in the 10 percent that has come back since half the barricades around the stock exchange were taken down two weeks ago.
This part of New York, Epstein said, just needs to get back to normal.
Normal is something Doug Smith, the president of the World Trade Art Gallery on Trinity Place, hadn't seen for two months. Instead, he saw Occupy Wall Street's unwillingness to communicate after he alerted the information and outreach section about his predicament. He went to Zuccotti Park twice on behalf of many small business owners in the area who were reluctant to come forward.
Smith also saw decreased foot traffic. At the same time, he watched as the amount of street vendors selling art-type souvenirs increased, all the while not having to pay rent, taxes, salaries, worker's compensation, garbage removal, and other fees that come with renting his building and running his business.
That made competition for moderately priced items nearly impossible. And the higher-end items didn't sell either, as fewer of that customer type wandered down to the Financial District.
Let's put it this way, he said in an interview Wednesday. If you came into our gallery space today vs. a month ago, it's pretty much the exact same stuff. From the moment they arrived, the art sales suffered dramatically.
He added: I definitely support free speech. I have no issues with that or with the actual cause. It's not that. It comes down to very practical things of running a business within the same proximity as the protests. For us, they created disruptions to business and sales.
Smith also noted he dealt with safety concerns, which he said were 9-1-1-type issues.
On Tuesday morning, Smith saw customers. He saw normal again.
They're back. It was that quick. First thing in the morning yesterday, Smith said. And even though it was rainy today, too. It was that quick.
A common theme that marked the majority of the feelings of owners seeing declining business as a result of Occupy Wall Street was the lack of communication.
Smith wanted to see more exchanged between the movement and local businesses. Epstein wanted more among him, the protestors and the NYPD. Simple communication, both said, can save the jobs for which the movement is fighting.
It's probably the greatest irony I've ever seen, Epstein said. One of their most important things is creating jobs. And they're killing some.
Now, communication is something that troubles Mustafa Sav. During an interview Wednesday, he mixed in checking voicemail, managing calls and speaking with building owners.They relay their communication with police.
And in the end, his business has now been partially closed two of the three days since Zuccotti Park's eviction.
Said Sav: This is just creating more of a whirlpool of hate.