Many office buildings in Midtown remain vacant due to the pandemic. However, the big return of several heavyweight Broadway shows Tuesday night is pumping some much needed foot traffic and business into Manhattan’s theatre district.
Despite the long line to get into Wednesday’s matinee performance Broadway’s Tony winning musical, “Hadestown,” Haley from New Jersey felt nothing but joy.
“Excited,” she said to describe how she felt. “So excited.”
“Hadestown” and “Waitress” were among the handful of Broadway shows to hold matinee performances on Wednesday. In keeping with the spirit of “Waitress,” audience members who flew in from as far as Minnesota and Panama said they were beyond glad to return to their ritual of making a day out of seeing a Broadway show and supporting restaurants and bars, in and around the Theatre District.
“Absolutely," said Judy Smithson of Minnesota, who had tickets to “Waitress.” “We were just over here and had lunch,” she said, referencing the Hotel Edison.
“We went to a Mexican restaurant,” said Pamela Oakes. “It was good.”
Alan Rosen, the third generation owner of Junior’s, said the decision to shut the restaurant's location in the heart of the Theatre District for 14 months made the most financial sense, while Broadway was dark.
He said when the restaurant reopened in June, before the return of Broadway, business hovered around 60%.
But he says with the big reopening Tuesday of four Broadway blockbusters including “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” and “The Lion King,” every table was packed before and after showtime.
“It means everything,” said Rosen. “The office workers are the only thing we’re missing, and then we have some tourism, that needs to return, but Broadway is a big, big part of the vitality of this neighborhood.”
The Times Square Alliance said the daily pedestrian count was about 255,000 during the Labor Day weekend, way up from the pandemic low of about 30,000.
With more Broadway shows set to reopen in the coming weeks, nearby restaurants are very eager to welcome them back.
“Last night was fantastic,” said Rosen. “It’s like a rebirth. The backbone of this neighborhood are the Broadway theatres and shows and the people that participate.”