A handful of people lingered around the counter in Andy’s Deli on 80th Street and Columbus Avenue, ordering bagels and coffee or picking up last-minute holiday supplies as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolled on nearby.
Nick Spathis and his staff took orders and rang up purchases from police officers and parade volunteers. Locals trickled in. Across the street, Columbus Avenue was packed.
Last year, Andy’s was closed, the first time Mr. Spathis, who’s owned the business for 33 years, was not open on Thanksgiving. And while this year Mr. Spathis opened at 5 a.m., the morning was quiet.
“It’s not surprising to me,” he said, after handing some coffees to wranglers for the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon. “With the pandemic, everything is slow.”
“It’s getting along little by little,” he added later. “It might take another year.”
Businesses and entrepreneurs along Columbus Avenue, parallel to the parade route along Central Park West, had mixed reactions to whether the parade’s comeback and the foot traffic brought with it an economic boost. For some, the morning yawned on no differently from other mornings. For others, its return brought a high volume of customers.
A few blocks away, Mast Market, which opened one week ago, had its first lull in the morning at about 9:30. The shop normally opened a half-hour earlier than normal.
“There were enough people lined up outside peering in,” Robin Mates, the market’s manager, said. “It’s been nonstop.”
Banca Grucan stood on Columbus, yelling as she hawked balloons, including a Buzz Lightyear one.
Originally from Ecuador, Ms. Grucan has been selling her wares on Thanksgiving morning for 12 years. She had barely sold 20 balloons by about 10 a.m, she said in Spanish, less than half of what she sold in years past.
For the past 40 years, Thomas Johnson has trekked from Connecticut to sell turkey hats on Thanksgiving. Last year, was the first he did not make the yearly pilgrimage. “It was depressing,” Mr. Johnson, 62, said.
On Thursday, Mr. Johnson was all smiles as he stood on the corner of 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.
“Turkey hats,” he shouted, gobbling like a turkey with his signature headgear.
One happy customer called out to him from the street: “My gobbling friend you got me looking good on Facebook — thank you so much!”
Business was so brisk he could barely keep up with demand. By early morning, he had sold about 100 hats and was ordering more from a supplier.
“I love it — I love it!” Mr. Johnson said, holding some turkey hats and throwing his hands up in the air. The people and the costumes bring him joy, he said. He posed for at least one photo with costumers.
“If my friends could see me now, they’d be laughing,” he added later, saying he’s a teacher. “I wear a suit and tie normally.”