When New York was drawing the lines on what constituted an essential business, it must have known we’d man the barricades and fight to the death if it took our liquor stores and coffee shops from us.

So, Murat Yilmaz still turns up at The Jolly Goat every morning, keeping the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood caffeinated (and fed with a growing repertoire of fresh muesli, eggs, yogurt, and juices). Business is down 75 percent, but he says the routine keeps him sane.

“I’ve been adapting by not watching or reading the news and, instead, I’ve been thinking a lot about how life will change for all of us in the future, and how and where I would have to start to get my business back on track again. I’ve decided to use this time to be more creative as a business owner, to find out how to better serve our community in Hell’s Kitchen.”

Voted one of the neighborhood’s favorite coffee shops by W42ST readers, in our Best of 2020 awards, The Jolly Goat, says Murat, is “a neighborhood coffee shop, and our lifeline is the people who live and work here. In these trying times, I’m asking myself if there is a way for us to strengthen the social capital in our community, because we all have seen and realized that is the most important thing to get us going.

I’ve become more aware, and now I’m thinking how, as a person and as a business owner, I can have a larger impact with my actions in my personal and professional life

“As we hit ‘pause’ in New York,” he adds, “I have more time to take a deeper look into my thoughts and feelings. I’ve become more aware, and now I’m thinking how, as a person and as a business owner, I can have a larger impact with my actions in my personal and professional life.”

He’s been moved to tears by the support and appreciation of customers, and says that gives him the energy to keep coming back to work every morning.

“We’ve had customers paying for an extra coffee and asking us to pay it forward. We’ve had customers sending coffee and pastries to the healthcare workers at the Ryan Chelsea-Clinton clinic. We’ve had a bunch of new customers who asked us if there was anything they could do for us, such as doing our laundry while we were busy trying to save our business.

“Although these are trying times, all these acts of kindness and love make me remain optimistic that our world will thrive once again very soon. We would like to thank all our friends and customers for their wonderful and kind support. We want them to know that we consider them part of our extended Jolly Goat family. We can’t wait to welcome everybody back. Until then, please stay well.”

Murat’s (pre-COVID) daylist

8am: Tulcingo Del Valle, 10th Ave, 46th/47th Ave (still open and serving take out and delivery)

I like to start the day with a breakfast taco at Tulcingo Del Valle, right around the corner from The Jolly Goat. This is a family owned and operated restaurant, serving real, authentic Mexican food prepared with fresh ingredients. I especially love their avocados and the quality of their meats.

10am: Sullivan Street Bakery, W47th St – 10th/11th Ave (still open and serving a “community loaf” for pick up Tuesdays and Fridays – order online)

The baristas at my shop love it when I make different omelets for us in the mornings. A good omelet should be accompanied by freshly baked, whole wheat sourdough bread – and there’s no better place to go than Sullivan Street Bakery for that.

2pm: Totto Ramen, W51st St – 9th/10th Ave (currently closed)

This is definitely my most favorite ramen place. On a cold day, I go for a spicy paitan, because it’s so heartwarming. On a regular day, I prefer the vegetable ramen because it’s topped with fresh, seasonal vegetables.

3pm: West Side Highway Bike Path (still open)

I love cycling, and when I don’t have to drive to work, I bike along the Hudson River to get away from the daily stressful life of Manhattan, and breathe in some fresh air by the river – especially in summer.

6pm: B-Side Pizza and Wine Bar, W51st St – 8th/9th Ave (currently closed)

I like to end the day in a cozy and relaxed atmosphere, choosing a drink from a wonderful selection of craft beers and handcrafted cocktails, topped with an artisanal pizza baked in a wood-fired oven. I could do this every day.

Murat Yilmaz is founder and owner of The Jolly Goat Coffee Bar and Urban Rooster Coffee Roasters (thejollygoat.com).

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