NEW YORK -- Michael Casey is picking up the pieces after some protesters turned violent and destroyed his business, Maxwell’s Bar & Restaurant, in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood
“We had to put together a makeshift border so no more looters would come in,” he said.
This former New York City firefighter served his community for 13 years. When medical issues forced Casey out of the department, he invested his life savings and built this bar with his friends and family.
“My daughter’s first birthday was there,” Casey said. “Her christening was there. It was a real kick to the…it was tough.”
Tough, Casey says, both emotionally and financially.
Casey says COVID-19 concerns forced him to shut down his business for three months. Without any income, he wasn’t able to pay insurance on his property.
“We had to pick and choose what we can pay and what we can’t pay to try to get back up on our feet,” he said. “One of the costs we were not able to incur was our insurance.”
After the looting, Casey had to let go of dozens of employees. Now, he’s filing for personal bankruptcy.
“We’re done. There’s too much destruction,” he said. “The bills keep piling up. The phone calls keep coming in.”
Even after what he calls “senseless destruction,” Casey still believes in the beauty of humanity and New York City.
He also added that he has an obligation to his community.
“I feel like I’d be letting them down and letting the community down if I decided to walk away now,” Casey said.
This former firefighter is now focusing on reopening his Harlem location, saying he needs to be an example of positivity -- especially during destruction.
“I never thought twice about running into a burning building; I still wouldn’t think twice about it,” he said. “I would put my life on the line for anybody, even after all this.”