NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For Chef Dawa Bhuti, a normal day at the restaurant is nearly unthinkable now.

“It feels like ages,” she said.

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The coronavirus pandemic forced a temporary closure of Dawa’s, the Himalayan-New American restaurant she runs with her father Ngodup Gyaltsen and uncle Lobsang Tenzin.

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After a pause that lasted nearly two months, Dawa’s is back, and Bhuti is hopeful.

“I try to make the best of the situation,” she said. “I repainted everything just to feel something different in a positive way.”

She transitioned to takeout-only, began stocking groceries, and offered up unused space for local artists and artisans to sell their work.

“Even personally, when I go to work, I try to dress nice. I try different earrings to look pleasant.”

As she watches her restaurant come back to life, she’s learning to adjust to a new rhythm.

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“We are off two days. Wednesday, we open, and I’m always looking forward to [going] to work.”

She says that seeing customers again offers stability.

“When they come in, you kind of feel a sense of belonging,” she said.

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Since the commission charged by delivery apps is too steep, Dawa’s is unable to offer delivery.

Instead, customers stop by to pick up dishes like momo, Tibetan steamed dumplings available in chicken, beef, and vegan varieties.

In this time of hardship, Bhuti appreciates small gestures.

“I don’t expect so much from individuals because of this whole situation,” she said. “Even little things like encouraging words on our website or Instagram, that helps, too.”

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51-18 Skillman Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 899-8629

Elle McLogan