UPDATE: Milk Street Cafe owner Mark Epstein said he called Donald Trump to personally thank him today. Epstein heard that the real estate tycoon, who owns the building that houses the Milk Street Cafe, reached out to Mayor Bloomberg to express concern about the barricades clogging Wall Street. The cafe owner said he is focused on bringing back the employees he had to lay off last week, but it all depends on his sales.
"My restaurant is getting busier and we hope everyone comes down here because I want to get those 21 people back," Epstein said.
Just one day after a Wall Street business owner complained of having to lay off 21 employees because of police barricades, those barricades have been removed. For the first time since the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement, people moved freely across Wall Street this morning. A group of mounted police is keeping watch in the center of the street.
The metal barricades were often a source of annoyance for people who were forced to push their way through crowds confined to the narrow sidewalks of Wall Street on their way to work or their homes.
Police did not immediately respond to questions about why the barricades were removed today or whether they are permanently gone, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters this morning that Occupy Wall Street was beginning to negatively affect the residents and businesses of Lower Manhattan.
"You know, I think increasingly you’re seeing that communities, businesses and residents in Lower Manhattan feel that they are the ones that are being occupied," Bloomberg said. "This isn’t an occupation of Wall Street. It’s an occupation of a growing, vibrant residential neighborhood in Lower Manhattan and it’s really hurting small businesses and families."
Yesterday, Mark Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe on Wall Street, blamed the barricades for his dwindling sales, which he said forced him to lay off an entire shift of employees and change his 9 p.m. closing time to 3:30 p.m..
"Every week, it started to impact business more and more," Epstein said about the barricades.