NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Carolines on Broadway was the first major live entertainment venue to reopen this weekend in Times Square, with its first shows in more than a year.
“It was sold out. I mean, I almost didn’t have a place to sit, I was on stage,” comedian Yamaneika Saunders told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
The Sunday night show at Carolines on Broadway was a hit. Donnell Rawlings was the headliner, and Saunders performed, too.
“It was amazing. There’s nothing like coming down the stairs at Carolines,” Saunders said. “You’re just happen to see people again.”
The owner of the iconic club filled about half of the 300 seats — all she could accommodate due to difficulty finding enough servers and kitchen staff.
After 15 months in the dark, Caroline Hirsch said she was able to reopen thanks to federal grants expected to arrive next month from the Save Our Stages Act.
“It goes to getting everybody back to work. It goes to pay your electric bill. It goes to pay for food,” Hirsch said. “They saved all of these small venues. I’m very, very moved by it.”
So moved, she made Sen. Chuck Schumer, who sponsored the legislation, the headliner for the day.READ MORE: Gabby Petito Foundation Holds Fundraiser On Long Island
“Sixteen billion dollars, a lot of which is going to flow to New York,” said Schumer.
Carolines is now offering some shows exclusively for those who are fully vaccinated.
“We added in an vaccinated show last night, our late show, and we sold every ticket we could,” Hirsch said.
One upcoming performer, Modi, also added a vaccinated-only show.
“We need to be laughing right now. Carolines Broadway, June 17, live live live!” he posted on Instagram.
For shows with audience members of varying vaccination status, fully vaccinated guests will sit in the front half of the room.
“Times Square, I mean, we’re the only show going on here right now, so it’s the funniest show on Broadway,” Hirsch added.MORE NEWS: Police: Suspect In Killing Of New Rochelle Taxi Driver Taken Into Custody After Shootout In Brooklyn
The Times Square Alliance says foot traffic has been up the last few weekends to more than half of what it was before the pandemic.