How a Bar Near Sam Bankman-Fried's Courthouse Is Adapting to Post-Pandemic Work Schedules and Trial DisruptionsThe location brings challenges -- and an up-close view of legal drama.

 During the summer season, a pop-up bar named Jury Duty operated in New York City, situated in a bustling pedestrian plaza near significant buildings such as courthouses and City Hall. Managed by the Sanctuary Courts LLC, the bar leased two aqua-and-black kiosks from the city and served cocktails and burgers with catchy names like "The Judge" and "The Defendant." Despite the limited decor of a few picnic tables and overhead lights, Jury Duty found itself in an advantageous position to observe the ongoing fraud trials of two prominent figures: former president Donald Trump and Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder of FTX and Alameda Research.

The ambiance at Jury Duty was uniquely shaped by the atmosphere surrounding the nearby trials. On a specific day, when former Trump aide Michael Cohen testified against him, a dozen news vans lined the streets, barricades were set up, and police officers were present to ensure safety. However, no protesters were visible. Although Bankman-Fried's trial was temporarily on recess, preparations were being made for his return to the stand. This location allowed the Sanctuary Courts to witness the ebb and flow of these high-profile cases and experience the accompanying media attention.

In an interview, Bogdan Kumpan, the manager and part-owner of Jury Duty, shared insights into the business's challenges in Lower Manhattan. Since it was their first season, it was still difficult to gauge the overall success. They faced initial obstacles, such as the impact of wildfire smoke from Canada and the temporary closure of the city. Furthermore, unfavorable weather conditions such as a heatwave and heavy rains affected the operations. Kumpan acknowledged the unpredictable nature of the restaurant business, emphasizing the importance of maximizing opportunities during peak months. He mentioned a potential strategy for the following year, considering opening solely for breakfast and lunch due to changes in remote work policies that affect their clientele.

When asked if there was a surge in patrons during high-profile cases like those of Bankman-Fried and Trump, Kumpan clarified that media personnel were the primary visitors. However, the presence of blocked streets due to the trials made it challenging for tourists and passersby to reach the bar easily, resulting in a slight decline in business.

Regarding the bar's clientele, Kumpan identified the Municipal Building across the street and courthouse employees as their primary customer base. He commended the crowd, describing them as predominantly mature adults who have chosen careers in the legal system or as public servants. In comparison to his previous experiences working in Times Square and a smaller bar in Brooklyn, Kumpan found the current crowd at Jury Duty to be remarkable.

In terms of grasping the progress of the trials, Kumpan admitted to obtaining some insider knowledge from acquaintances working in the courthouse, allowing him to gather tidbits of information. For instance, he learned that the judge presiding over Trump's fraud trial seemed to have a negative opinion of the former president. Kumpan also briefly discussed Bankman-Fried's case, expressing a superficial familiarity with the accusations of a Ponzi scheme. While he refrained from making concrete predictions, he shared a personal belief influenced by experiences in post-USSR countries, where individuals sometimes evade severe punishment for their actions.

As for potentially awkward situations, Kumpan recalled an instance where individuals involved in a case experienced contrasting emotions. Some patrons were visibly upset after losing their case while lawyers on the opposing side remained jubilant. This created an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Despite occasional peculiar incidents, Kumpan asserted that he rarely encountered situations that could escalate into conflicts. Although there were sporadic individuals protesting either in support or against the cases, Kumpan would kindly request them to minimize disruptions near the bar's patrons, emphasizing that they came to unwind. To alleviate any issues, he acknowledged the helpfulness of the marshals, who promptly addressed any concerns he raised about individuals exhibiting excessive behavior.  

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post