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Bento, Poke ... and Emergency Loans

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

There are plenty of dining options on Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but only one bills itself as a “cozy mom-and-pop restaurant cooking up really distinctive Asian meals inspired by the well-being of Mankind.”

Simple NYC began serving poke and bento box meals in 2016. Its loyal customers included staff from NYS CDFI Coalition member Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, as their office was just 2 blocks away.

When the pandemic hit in March, 2020, its proprietors, husband and wife team Kim Lee and Betty Chung, survived by working with the City of New York to deliver meals to senior citizens stranded in their homes.

And while the team from Renaissance couldn’t have lunch at Simple NYC while the restaurant was closed for nine months, they did what they do best – provided technical assistance and an emergency loan. As a result, not only did the restaurant reopen in its existing storefront, but the owners launched Simple Next Door, a creative salad / fast casual restaurant, in August.

“When I talk about them, I am very emotional because they helped us get through very difficult times, and when you think no one cares about small businesses, they’re there,” said Betty of her relationship with Renaissance. “They never see us as too small or too big. They have all the patience in the world to help us.”

Read the full story here.

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