Brothers: National Sibling Day

The second favorite son!

I’ve watched the Cuomo brothers video — the NY Governor and his CNN journalist brother Chris, chatting with each other. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link:

I also have a brother, living just 10 minutes away by car, that I haven’t seen for almost a month. Today is National Sibling Day! (Want to find out how the second favorite son is doing?)

He too is hit hard by this silent predator. This is his story.

Introduce yourself brother.

My name is Velibor Bulajic. Here, everyone knows me as Vincenzo. Or just V. I’m from Pula, Croatia. In live in Queens, Woodside, with my son Aleksandar who six years ago came to live with me. That was the happiest day of my life, after the day he was born. My pride and joy. He’s studying Theatre at the Borough Manhattan Community College, and working, though now without job, as a bartender at a great Italian restaurant Felice 64. I own Shade, a cozy bar in Greenwich Village, corner of West 3 and Sullivan Street. Please join us as soon as this madness ends. (Drink on me if you mention this site.)

Vincenzo Bulajic
Velibor Vincenzo Bulajic, owner Shade Bar, Greenwich Village, NYC

How are you spending your day during this pandemic?

We are being careful as much as we can. My son is home, occasionally goes for a run around the neighborhood. I have to go to my bar every day, from 12pm until 6pm, because our take-out window is still open. We sell crepes, sandwiches and salads. The streets are empty and practically no one is buying. At home, I do lots of cooking, reading and watching TV.

When did you first start to worry?

At the end February I was flying back to New York from Trieste, Italy. They already started a quarantine of Lombardy. Trieste airport was still operating — it was just matter of days before it will happen here in the US.

When did things start to worsen for you?

For me, everything changed once we had to close our business. On Monday, March 16th, we closed Shade after 22 years. We are typically open every day and had never closed except for five days after September 11 2001, and for four days during Hurricane Sandy in August of 2011. Now the bar has been out of business almost a full month. It’s hard to cope with this both emotionally and economically. I’m desperately trying to get any help from the government. The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating to the hospitality sector that employ thousands of bartenders, waitstaff and kitchens workers in NYC and beyond.

What is your take on how both local and federal officials are handling this pandemic?

They’re doing okay, I guess, in slowing down the pandemic. The problem is there’s no help for small businesses. We still have to pay the rent. As this is a national emergency, and businesses have had to cease operations, everything should also be paused — including paying rent. I’m already behind in paying rent for the month of April. Once we open, we will owe tens of thousands of dollars in back rent. It seems politicians are overly concerned about upsetting landlords, or perhaps they’re scared of landlords.

What’s your opinion on how our homeland is handling the coronavirus?

I hear that they’re enforcing the Stay-at-Home order, and allowing only people with a official pass to move about freely. I’m not sure if they’re planning to implement any financial assistance to citizens.

Is there anything you wish you took with you into isolation?

Trump. Enough said.

Shade Bar
V & Alex, Shade Bar, Greenwich Village, NYC

Anything else you’d like to add?

One thing I’ve learnt is that it’s so easy to lose many aspects of life that we take for granted.

Thank you brother.

And thank you to Total Croatia News, for inspiring me to do this story.

Stay safe everyone.

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