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Market Owners Worry How Transit Strike Will Affect Profits

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In the event of a transit strike, market owners say they'll have food and supplies to go around. But their biggest concern is staffing. NY1's Elizabeth Gerst reports.

At the Strawberry Fields supermarket in Chelsea Thursday, shoppers were not scrambling to stock up ahead of the strike.

“I think the supermarkets will have everything,” said one shopper.

The market's workers seemed assured as well.

”[Produce, fresh meat?] That's no problem. That's coming here no matter what,” said Victor DiBurgilio.

In fact, the biggest headache facing markets is not getting food, but making sure workers are there to sell it.

“I'm very worried,” said DiBurgilio. “If I don't have the subway, I have to walk; I can't afford a cab. So that's going to hurt me.”

D'Agostino's says its shelves will be full, but says customers may have to be patient in case of fewer checkout workers.

The abor concern is shared by many other food providers as well. Ian MacGregor owns the Lobster Place, which wholesales to restaurants like Jean-Georges and the Water Club.

“We have six trucks that start making deliveries at around 7 a.m. The trucks won't be affected, but if I don't have a driver to put in them it's going to be a problem,” said MacGregor.

The one thing these businesses are banking on right now: plenty of understanding.

“We're going to have to ask them to bear with us, and if deliveries are late, we'll attribute that to the fact that our employees are having a hard time getting here,” said MacGregor.

Frank's Butcher Shop is working on contingency plans to get deliveries from the Bronx.

“In the worst case scenario, I’m going to keep someone here and they'll wait for the trucks,” said Jimmy Molinari. “If they get here at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, that's when they get here.”

Molinari is particularly worried about Freight, his restaurant next door.

“I have a tremendous amount of Christmas parties that are just going to go down the drain,” said Molinari. “I don't know if they're going to cancel, but a party that's 50 will come in 30, and a party that's 30 will come in 10.”

Event planner Richard Malanga has five parties to cater next week.

“Next week is the biggest of the season,” said Malanga. “It's the last week that most corporate people will have parties, and if they disrupt next week it's going to be extremely disruptive.”

But Malanga still thinks city-dwellers will keep the strike from crushing their spirits, saying: “New Yorkers tend to be pretty tough in these situations.”

And if they do wind up stranded around the Big Apple, at least they'll have plenty to chew on.

- Elizabeth Gerst
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